Whistleblowers, Members Of Congress Criticize Phoenix VA Director Appointment

By Carrie Jung
Published: Friday, September 30, 2016 - 1:51pm
Updated: Friday, September 30, 2016 - 3:13pm
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(Photo by Tracy Greer - KJZZ)
Phoenix VA hospital.

The new director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system will officially start her post on Sunday and the new appointment is receiving some criticism.

RimaAnn Nelson will be the health care system’s seventh director in three years. Before coming to Phoenix she was the director at the VA regional office in Manila, Philippines. Prior to that she was the medical center director for the St. Louis VA.

At issue is Nelson’s tenure at these facilities. While in St Louis, for example, the hospital had to temporarily halt surgical activity after inspections revealed insufficient equipment sterilization.

Brandon Coleman is a VA whistleblower and now an addiction therapist at a VA clinic in Cottonwood.  He said the news is disappointing.

"Could we think of anything else," he said. "They keep taking these bad apples, and instead of getting rid of them, they recirculate them."

In a statement, VA deputy secretary Sloan Gibson said he has full confidence Nelson will provide the sound leadership required to build on the progress the Phoenix system has made to improve access to care.

Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema said she isn’t so sure.

"We deserve the very best to fix the absolute worst functioning VA in the country and instead we are being sent someone who has a checkered past," she said.

On Friday Sinema and Rep. Matt Salmon sent a letter to President Obama and VA Secretary Robert McDonald requesting this not become a permanent position until there has been a thorough analysis of Nelson’s past.

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