VA Secretary Bob McDonald to address American Legion Wednesday

First local appearance since Cincy VA upheaval

CINCINNATI - Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald will address the American Legion convention in Cincinnati Wednesday, his first public appearance here since a February upheaval at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center.

RECAP: See what McDonald said

The hospital’s chief of staff was demoted and Ohio’s highest-ranking VA official retired after the Scripps Washington Bureau and WCPO documented a series of problems involving cost cutting, managerial misconduct and quality of care.

The problems were brought to light by a group of 34 whistleblowers, who alleged hospital leaders forced out experienced surgeons and allowed patient care to suffer.

Read all of WCPO's VA coverage here

After her demotion, Dr. Barbara Temeck filed her own whistleblower claim, saying she was unfairly targeted by surgical staffers who wasted millions of dollars at the Cincinnati VA by collecting "full-time salaries and benefits" for "less than full-time work."

McDonald, former CEO of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. CEO, has yet to comment publicly on any of the local controversies. And a VA spokesman declined to preview the secretary’s address, slated for 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Meantime, the leadership changes that began in February at the Cincinnati VA appear likely to continue into the fall. The hospital is close to naming a new boss to replace Acting Medical Center Director Glenn Costie. This would be the third director in Cincinnati since April, when John Gennaro was reassigned to run a smaller VA hospital in Pennsylvania.

“We have a very outstanding person pretty far along in the vetting process,” said Cincinnati VA spokeswoman Amanda Eisenlohr. “She’s a great candidate, so we’re hoping it’ll all work out.”

Eisenlohr declined to name the candidate, but said she is a military veteran who could be on the job as early as Oct. 1, which is the start of the VA’s fiscal year. Another military veteran, Dr. Elizabeth Brill, became the hospital's chief of staff on May 3.

The Vine Street hospital is also getting a new public affairs officer who has experience in helping VA medical centers recover from scandals in Dayton and Phoenix. Todd Sledge will start his new role in Cincinnati Sept. 6, Eisenlohr said.

His LinkedIn profile indicates Sledge spent more than 23 years with the VA before becoming a Cincinnati-based consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in February.

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