In the latest fallout from the controversy over outpatient care of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Army forced its surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, to retire, officials said.
Kiley, who headed Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004, submitted his retirement request on Sunday, the Army said in a statement issued Monday.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Michael Tucker has been named to the newly created position of deputy commanding general at 261-bed Walter Reed. Tucker, a former noncommissioned officer who rose through the ranks to become commander of Fort Knox, Ky., will lead under Maj. Gen. Eric Schoomaker in the turnaround effort at the beleaguered military hospital.
The VA is ordering its 1,400 hospitals and clinics to report on the quality of their facilities to determine if squalid conditions found at Walter Reed exist elsewhere.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson issued the directive in an internal memorandum sent last week to the VA's medical center directors. He said ''recent events'' compelled him to redouble efforts to improve the physical environment at outpatient center and medical facilities.
''I am directing you hereby to conduct and supervise a full and immediate review of your facility's environments of care,'' Nicholson wrote in the March 7 memorandum, which was obtained Monday. The memo asks for a full report by March 14.
''As medical center and network directors, you all are responsible,'' he said. ''Negative responses are required.''
On Monday, Nicholson paid a surprise visit to the VA medical center in Richmond, Va., as part of the department's ongoing efforts to ''make sure veterans are receiving access to the best possible care and environment.''
During that time, he met with center officials for two to three hours to hear their concerns about what can be done to improve care, the department said, with more visits planned to other facilities in coming months.
Separately, Gail Wilensky, a senior fellow at Project HOPE and a longtime health policy shaper, and Edward Eckenhoff, chief executive officer of the 137-bed National Rehabilitation Hospital, Washington, have been named along with five others to serve on a presidential commission designed to review the quality of care wounded servicemen and servicewomen receive when they return stateside.
President Bush ordered the commission on March 6 and named former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) as its co-chairs. The members also include: former Army Capt. Marc Giammatteo; former Naval hospital corpsman Jose Ramos; veterans activist Tammy Edwards; developer Kenneth Fisher; and C. Martin Harris, chief information officer and chairman of the technology division at the Cleveland Clinic. -- by Matthew DoBias and the Associated Press