DECATUR, Ga. -- The Atlanta VA hospital may be the most dysfunctionalhospital in town. Leslie Wiggins now has the daunting job of leadingit. She will oversee a facility that has a patient load of more than89,000 veterans -- and a staff of nearly three thousand.
"This is a public trust we have. We are taking care of our nation'sheroes," Wiggins said at a news conference during her first day on thejob Monday. She transferred from her job as COO at the Detroit VA Medical Center.
Wiggins leads a hospital that took a two-fisted beating from government auditors just last month.
Two inspector general reports cited mismanagement of the facility forthe suicides of three mental health patients. The investigationcriticized long wait times for mental health patients. It said thefacility sometimes lost track of patients, and failed to controlcontraband.
Read one of the audits here.
Read the other audit here.
"What I plan to do is make sure we shore up all the systems andprocesses within this organization. and hopefully we won't have suchtragedies," Wiggins said.
Wiggins says mental health service will be her top priority at theAtlanta VA hospital. She will also likely evaluate the hospital'sculture -- which union president Elijah Williams says dissuades employeeinput.
"And the (employees) who will speak out, (managers) simply just make itbad for them," Williams said, citing a culture of retribution at the VAhospital. "Always. I myself have experienced that."
But Williams says he and other VA employees will welcome Wiggins, whostarted her career as a nurse-- and now faces the challenge of alifetime.