CINCINNATI -- A retired U.S. Army Colonel will be the next boss of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, starting Monday. Vivian Hutson comes to the Vine Street facility from the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General, having recently retired from the Army's Medical Specialist Corps after 30 years of military service.
This is the fifth leadership change since February for the Cincinnati VA, which was the subject of an investigation by the Scripps Washington Bureau and WCPO that explored whistleblower allegations of cost cutting, patient care problems and managerial misconduct.
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Hutson is endorsed VA Secretary Bob McDonald, former CEO of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., who told reporters last month that he is watching events in Cincinnati closely.
“Over the last two years the Cincinnati VA Medical Center (CVAMC) has made irrefutable progress in increasing access to quality care that our Veterans have earned and deserve," McDonald said in a press release Friday. “Improving services at CVAMC remains a top priority for VA and I have full confidence Hutson will provide the sound leadership required to continue to build upon the progress we have made.”
The press release said the Cincinnati VA in June completed 94.34 percent of appointments within 14 days and 89.2 percent within seven days. In fiscal year 2016, the center filled 420 staff positions; 30 of those were new registered nurse positions.
Hutson is the second military veteran to assume a leadership post in Cincinnati since February. Dr. Elizabeth Brill, a former Army Lt. Colonel from Columbus, was hired as the hospital’s chief of staff in April.
Hutson replaces Glenn Costie, an acting director from Dayton, who led the Cincinnati VA for five months following the departure of John Gennaro. Other leadership changes included the demotion of Dr. Barbara Temeck, who was replaced on an interim basis by Dr. Ralph Panos in February. Network director Jack Hetrick, a Cincinnati-based executive in charge of hospitals in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, was replaced in February by acting network director Robert McDivitt.
As medical center director, Hutson will oversee a $373 million budget and a staff of 2,100 employees who work at two main campus locations in Uptown and Fort Thomas, along with six regional satellite offices. The system cares for 43,000 veterans in 17 counties.
Hutson’s career includes a stint as commander of a U.S. Army unit that provided health care for 30,000 beneficiaries in Japan. She is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and board-certified in healthcare management.
Hutson will begin her new job as a new investigation starts at the Cincinnati VA to explore allegations raised by Dr. Temeck, who was demoted after the VA substantiated allegations reported by Scripps and WCPO that Dr. Temeck prescribed pain medications for Hetrick's wife. After her demotion, Dr. Temeck alleged that the University of Cincinnati exerted too much influence at the Cincininati VA, and UC doctors were paid by the VA for hours they didn’t work.
Her allegations will be examined by an independent board of inquiry, after which the VA is expected to release all findings on several inquiries launched this year.