You’d think this type of stuff couldn’t be made up, much less be real, however, the Phoenix VA is getting a new director, the sixth one in just the last 2.5 years. The Department of Veterans Affairs has named RimaAnn Nelson as its new director. Her background and credentials though are mired in controversy.
Nelson was the head of the St. Louis VA facility where it got the lowest satisfaction rating of any facility anywhere in the United States. Pretty bad right, well it gets worse, much, much worse. Recall that it was under her watch that a VA Office of Inspector General report verified that 1,812 patients were exposed to HIV after medical equipment wasn’t cleaned nor sterilized correctly.
As a result, Nelson, who began her career as a nurse with the VA, was quietly transferred to the Philippines in 2013, she ran a small clinic there while keeping her $160,000 year salary and was given an apartment in the US Embassy, free of charge.
According to the VA “This is exactly the type of leadership we need in Phoenix. Someone who isn’t afraid to acknowledge a problem and take immediate action to ensure that our Veterans get the care they deserve.” Really? This is the type of leader we want running the most troubled VA facility in the country? I could find a private in the Marine Corps with more leadership abilities than this hot mess.
It’s like the blind leading the blind, the message this sends is a clear one, mess up at the VA and you’ll get rewarded and even promoted, and, your job will never be in jeopardy. The President-Elect Donald Trump @RealDonaldTrump, better fix this and fix it quick, after all, the VA falls under the executive branch and could be changed in a heartbeat.
VA superiors hid her literally on the other side of the Earth … at the department’s only foreign facility, a seldom-used clinic in Manila, and to make things worse, she’s now tasked with running an already dysfunctional, leaderless and broken facility that services 85,000 veterans.
As veterans, we can only hope that one of the last cabinet positions yet to be filled by the incoming President is because he’s picking the strongest candidate that will turn the VA upside down and reform it from the top down. Only time will tell.