March 7th, 2007

submarine insignia, dolphins

More on milspec health "care"

Yesterday's Army Times reported that LTG Kevin Kiley (currently Army Surgeon General and Walter Reed's CO back in 2002-2004) was trying to duck responsibility for the screwed-up nature of Army medicine in general and Walter Reed in particular:
As Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley worked to push the blame away from himself during Monday congressional hearings on problems at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker and Vice Chief Gen. Richard Cody seemed to place it squarely on Kiley's shoulders.

[ ... ]

But Kiley said he didn't know, either, explaining that when he served as Walter Reed commander from 2002 to 2004, he was "dual-hatted" as chief of the Army's North Atlantic Regional Medical Command — as was Weightman [MG George Weightman, Walter Reed CO from last fall to last week] until he was relieved of duty last week.

Kiley said he did read reports of problems, but that he was concentrating on an 80 percent return-to-duty rate of injured soldiers.

"We still have problems," he said, "but we were still healing and returning to the force large numbers of soldiers."
I suspect LTG Kiley is going to get himself canned in the rather near future - especially after reading today's Army Times:
Even as the Army reviews outpatient care procedures at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and 11 other posts, the Pentagon has ordered a senior-level review of medical care provided by all the services, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said today.

Gates, who last week fired Army Secretary Francis Harvey over his handling of the administrative problems and poor living conditions for some outpatients at Walter Reed, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that he has directed David S.C. Chu, undersecretary for personnel and readiness, and William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary for health affairs, "to comprehensively review all the departments' medical care programs, facilities and procedures - to ensure that we're providing all of our troops the standard of care they deserve."

[ ... ]

Gates said he has also told acting Army Secretary Pete Geren to brief him by the end of the week on the Army’s action plan for Walter Reed, and to provide timelines on changes in Walter Reed outpatient care.

Gates said he expects progress reports "every two weeks."

Some details of the so-called "Army Action Plan" for Walter Reed are expected to be revealed Thursday afternoon at a news conference at the hospital. Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody will provide the update, officials said.
It really does sound as though Gates (a) gives a damn and (b) has a clue. Kiley may be getting one last chance to shape up, but those biweekly progress reports sound like Gates is going to have his people on a really short leash.

The other big question, though, is just how deep the rot is in the military healthcare system. It took pictures in the Washington Post to get any action at all on Walter Reed ...