Atlanta VA Medical Center names new director - CBS46 News

Atlanta VA Medical Center names new director

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The Atlanta VA Medical Center named Leslie Wiggins as its new director Monday.

The appointment comes as the troubled hospital works to correct numerous problems uncovered by federal investigators.

"Veterans can be confident they will get the care they deserve," Wiggins told reporters during a news conference. "I already have the ball rolling."

Wiggins joined the Department of Veterans Affairs in 1993 and has served as the VA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Labor-Management Relations. She has also served as a nurse executive, medical center quality manager and, most recently, as chief operating officer at the Detroit VA Medical Center.

Two recent audits by the VA's Inspector General found several patients have committed suicide while at the facility. It also noted other problems related to patient safety.

"It's not only shocking, but sad," said Wiggins of the patients' suicides. "We must make sure these tragedies don't happen again."

The president of the union that represents many staff members said he wants to see action from Wiggins. 

"Many times, you're so short staffed, you're asking a nurse to cover two sides and that's impossible," said Elijah Williams, president of the American Federation of Government Employees. "I feel strongly that we're too top heavy. We need boots on the ground."

Some veterans said they are happy with the care they receive though others said it could be improved.

"You're going to have to wait every time you go in there," said Navy veteran Calvin Johnson, who has been treated at the hospital for several years.

Navy veteran Eddie Bell said everyone, including the staff and patients, must give the new director a chance.

"At all the hospitals, they do things that are wrong," said Bell. "I want to believe that we are going to get it right. Oh yes, we're going to get it right."

Wiggins said she planned to review the various investigations and findings on the hospital.  She said she hopes to map out an action plan in 30 days.

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