Dayton VA chief sent to Cincinnati temporarily

A VA internal investigation found misconduct by former administrators.

This newspaper has closely scrutinized developments at the Dayton Veterans Administration and care for veterans at VA facilities throughout the country. For more of this reporter’s military affairs stories go to Barrie Barber DDN on Facebook.

Dayton VA Medical Center Director Glenn Costie will temporarily take over the embattled Cincinnati VA while a search for a new director is under way, the federal agency said Tuesday.

It’s not an unfamiliar role for Costie, who was interim director of the Phoenix VA Medical Center in Arizona when that medical center faced scrutiny about lengthy delays in scheduling appointments for veterans.

Costie will replace John A. Gennaro, the current Cincinnati VA director, who served in the top post since last July. He will become the director of the Erie (Pa.) VA Medical Center, where he was an associate director prior to coming to Cincinnati.

Costie was out of the office and unavailable for comment Tuesday, according to Dayton VA spokeswoman Kimberly Frisco.

The VA also declined an interview request Tuesday with Gennaro.

VA officials have offered no additional information on the reason for the leadership change in Cincinnati, but the Cincinnati VA was under scrutiny in recent months after the federal agency took action against two senior leaders following dozens of whistleblowers reportedly stepping forward with concerns.

In February, Jack G. Hetrick, director of the Veterans Integrated Service Network covering Ohio, retired when faced with a notice of pending removal, and Dr. Barbara Temeck, then Cincinnati VA acting chief of staff, was reassigned to non-patient duties, according to the VA.

A VA internal investigation earlier this year substantiated misconduct by Temeck and Hetrick in connection with prescriptions that Temeck provided to members of Hetrick’s family. Other allegations that cost-cutting measures impacted quality of care for veterans were not substantiated by the VA.

An attorney for Temeck has said the VA made her a “scapegoat” while she tried to fix a broken system at the VA, according to media reports.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Tuesday he would meet with Cincinnati VA leadership and employees next week. Brown, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, had been in contact with VA Secretary Robert McDonald about concerns at the medical center, his office said.

“Nothing is more important than taking care of our veterans and the problems reported in Cincinnati are unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “My team and I have been working closely with Secretary McDonald and the VA to demand accountability, and today’s news is another big step toward making sure Cincinnati area veterans receive the top quality care they deserve.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said in a written statement: “This development is a testament to Director Costie’s expertise and his over 30 years of experience in this field. His leadership at multiple VA Medical Centers is expansive and I look forward to having him back at the Dayton VA soon.”

With Costie’s temporary reassignment, Mark Murdock will become acting director of the Dayton VA Medical Center. Murdock had been on temporary assignment as acting director of the Northern Indiana Health Care System since last October. Jay Miller, associate director of the Northern Indiana Health Care System, will take over as acting director at that facility, which covers the Fort Wayne and Marion VA areas, the VA said.

Costie is expected to assume full-time duties in Cincinnati by May 16, although the transition begins next week. He will return to Dayton within four months once his role as acting director is over, according to the VA. Murdock will arrive in Dayton at the end of May.

Dayton VA Chief of Staff Dr. James T. Hardy, and Anna Monnett, associate director of patient care services in Dayton, will fill in the leadership role until Murdock arrives.

About the Author