ATLANTA - The Department of Veteran’s Affairs secretary is out. Eric Shinseki resigned Friday amid an alarming scandal involving patient wait times.
The scandal exploded last month after allegations of misconduct by VA leaders in Arizona first surfaced.
But Channel 2 action News has been digging into problems and preventable deaths at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and around the country for more than a year.
Now lawmakers from Georgia are getting specific about what needs to happen next.
"I said we wouldn't tolerate misconduct, and we will not," President Barack Obama said Friday after accepting Shinseki's resignation.
"We now know that VA has a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity within some our veteran’s health facilities," Shinseki said.
Shinseki’s resignation comes just days after a VA inspector general's report outlined pervasive nationwide problems with veterans' wait times for care. Plus leaders at the Phoenix VA hospital were found to be complicit in a cover-up.
"I think this is an important first step, because public confidence was being lost in this," Rep. David Scott said.
Scott first called for Shinseki's resignation last summer after a Channel 2 Action News investigation exposed federal reports that blamed mismanagement by Atlanta VA hospital leaders for at least three patient deaths.
"He needed to do this," Scott said.
Our reporting led to a senate field hearing in Atlanta last August chaired by Sen. Johnny Isakson, which led to major changes.
"We have done in Atlanta what's now being talked about being done in Phoenix and other places," Isakson said.
Isakson had some advice for Shinseki's successor:
"First thing I would do is have a quality assurance officer, a reporting system that runs from the top of the organization to the bottom and back again, to make sure there is zero tolerance for what's happened in the VA," Isakson said.
Until the president nominates Shinseki's replacement, Undersecretary Sloan Gibson, who joined the agency in February from the USO, will serve as the VA's acting secretary.
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