Failure To Lead

Two Memphis VA Leaders Fired For ‘Failure To Lead And Act’

Failure To Lead

VA Secretary David Shulkin laid waste to two leaders at Memphis VA for “failure to lead and act” consistent with agency requirements.

Memphis VA is among the worst rated VA medical facilities in the country with a score of one star out of five stars. A variety of surgical mishaps in the past two years no doubt contributed to the poor score.

Memphis VA Malpractice Problems

According to FieceHealthcare:

A veteran wound up having his leg amputated at a VA hospital after a previous procedure left plastic tubing in his artery. And that’s far from the first horror story to come out of the Memphis VA Medical Center.

The Memphis VA Medical Center scores only one out of five stars in the VA’s quality-of-care rankings, according to a USA Today article describing the facility’s shortcomings. A string of serious medical errors under investigation in 2016 included a perforated colon during a colonoscopy and a biopsy that had to be redone after the facility mishandled a tissue sample.

In the latest incident, a diabetic veteran wound up with 10 inches of plastic tubing embedded in an artery in his leg after VA doctors apparently failed to remove the protective cover from a catheter before inserting it. Surgeons found the tubing more than three weeks later when they amputated the leg, according to the article.

Leaders linked to the poor surgical outcomes have now hit the road after being terminated by Secretary Shulkin. One is Susan Calhoun, the former director of anesthesiology. The other is Darryl Weiman, former head of surgery.

Now, an unusual twist here is that Dr. Weiman is both a surgeon and a lawyer who lectures frequently against malpractice and other legal hang-ups surgeons frequently run into. He also writes about Obamacare and the state of health care in the US.

See: Weiman Website And Book

See: Weiman Affordable Care Act Blog

Failure To Lead And Act

About the termination for failure to lead and act:

VA officials confirmed that Susan Calhoun, former director of the hospital’s anesthesiology department, and Darryl Weiman, former head of surgery, were fired Friday by Director David Dunning for “failure to lead and act.”

Both Calhoun and Weiman had been temporarily reassigned during an investigation, which is now complete, the VA said. Weiman was a staff surgeon and Calhoun was a staff anesthesiologist while the investigation had been ongoing.


Calhoun’s attorney, Kevin Owen, told the USA TODAY NETWORK that claims made by Dunning about Calhoun’s “performance and professionalism” were false and the decision to fire Calhoun will ultimately be even more harmful to the veterans who use the hospital.

“Unfortunately Director Dunning is more interested in reporting a body count of employees he fired in the name of reform than actually improving the Memphis VA Medical Center,” Owen said.

How is that for a first? I have never heard of a VA leader getting canned for not leading, but I’d say it’s a good start.

What do you think about the Weiman termination? I would be a dollar there is more to this story that merely firing someone for being a bad boss.


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  1. 11/03/2017

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    “Ms. RimaAnn Nelson was appointed Medical Center Director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Oct. 2, 2016,” she is the sixth director in 3.5 years, and she has been there for a year. Late October the VA received a “one star” rating, this rating has not changed since the scandal broke in May of 2014.

    I must commend Director RimaAnn Nelson on the success it could have been a Zero Star rating. You think the VA Administration rounded it off to the higher number?

    Obviously Management is lacking for the rate not to change. Why is this?

    Has any reporter, of the 17 investigative reporters, from the Arizona Republic asked this question? Has any reporter from the USA Today jumped on the Phoenix VA for lack of improvements and the lingering illegal wait list?

    Has any Congressman asked this question in Arizona? How about the Candidates that are lined up to be the next Senators in Arizona? Nobody is asking questions, how about Mayor Stanton who wants to be a “U.S. Representative?”

    Management is gone and I cannot get a job in my field.

    Lee Iacocca asked that questions years ago [2007], “Where have all the leaders gone.”

    The VA is working with NO/little Management, just Sales Personnel without a clue.

    The Administration/White House/DOD/VA/HHS and the Major Corporations are all involved in this Treason against its’ own people to provide inadequate and untimely care to our soldiers and officers.


    Don Karg

  2. I am taking bets and giving 7:1 odds that these two will stay fired as long as President Trump’s first firing. And his second. And the third.

    Now that I think about it, I will bump the odds to 100:1 just to make it interesting. Easy money?

  3. only one way to get Secretary Shulkin to react to any wrongdoings at the VA and that is it has to be published by a news agency. Out of sight, out of mind.

    I am just hoping that the senate committee on veterans affairs does what it said it will do and demand an explanation why action was not taken on VA employee’s that have been reported.

    Time will tell, I sent information I sent to Secretary Shulkin to Rubio and to the Senate committee on veterans affairs in May of 2017 and will send another follow up letter in December.

  4. Well people have been fired and except the ones who retired, the all came back. So whoop de do! Denver was a one star, took all the easy stuff like paperwork and barely made a two. The two rating didn’t improve anything, just took results, highlighted the trivial crap to increase the false ratings. An outside firm should evaluate because no way being honest. It a lot easier when taking your own test! Leaving a tube, just shows they don’t give a shit. A good surgeon make 4-5+ times a VA dipshit. When you hire the person no one wants? You get this. I’m so tired of everything

  5. IN 3…..2…….1…….. Fuck the VA!

    This public service message has been brought to by Fuck the VA Dot Com.
    And the makers of Fake OIG badges.

    *corny announcer voice* Get your fake OIG badge today. For the low price of $19.99 you too can become a fake OIG. Just think, with our exclusive dvd on how to become a fake OIG, you will know all the latest techniques in looking like a douchebag, lying, cheating like a natural born meatloaf. The first 5 callers will receive a Sheriff Roscoe P Coltrane 5×8 poster.
    Call now, 1800 douche to the motherfucking bag!

    1. “OIG”- Orgies In Glass (conference room). Remember a former Head Hack of OIG getting in a tad of trouble causing early retirement with full bennies for habitually masturbating in an all glass conference room that happened to be across from others not pleased with what was in plain view…pigeons were blamed and many pigeons are still in therapy. Some things cannot be unseen.

  6. Off-Topic: Please help me understand what the POTUS means by wanting “Extreme Vetting”? I guess I am confused because I would call 22 Vet Suicides daily and Vets setting themselves on fire outside VAMC parking lots would be ‘Vets gone to Extreme Measures”…or is “Extreme Vetting” using Vets as nonhuman test subjects? What do I know?!

  7. communication with veterans is in my opinion the biggest shortcoming of the VA administration

    1. All due respect I have to disagree and say one of Maslow’s Basic Human Needs, ‘SAFETY’ is the VA’s biggest shortcoming…they communicate quite well through network of travel pay fraud posters and VA Public Relations…lots of communication but it’s out entirely wrong orifice.

      1. no argument here. The posters and bullshit they post all over the VA clinics are nothing but propaganda and a waste of money

  8. More to it than being a bad boss? Very likely much more to it, but that would depend on what was found in their investigation.

    Its very possible they found all kinds of serious problems, but how many of those findings would point to larger problems if they were used as an excuse to fire these two?

    I get the sense in reading this that this investigation was started because of the tubing left in the leg publicity. No matter the results of the investigation, failure to act and failure to lead are likely reasons for firing that they thought would stick, not point fingers at others, and not easily overturned on appeal. On the other hand, even if it is overturned on appeal, perhaps the charges may be enough to prevent them from getting the same jobs back.

    Clearly they have serious problems there. Clearly failure to act and failing in leadership can easily be pointed out when tubing is left in a leg because the surgeon was too fucking incompetent to do his job. Maybe this surgeon wasn’t being properly supervised. Maybe this quack wasn’t being trained properly.

    Clearly, with a 1 star rating, failure to lead and failure to act could just as easily apply to the director, but this firing might prevent that.

    1. @ 91Veteran- You are too generous with benefit of doubt on inadequate training. Maybe the surgeon was on OPIOIDS or…~~*crack*~~ or SMACK? This is ground zero Midwest opioid and heroin epidemic territory and it’s the VA.

      Leaving tubing inside where it was clearly not supposed to be is akin to your mechanic only leaving you with one axle and three tires…a trainwreck….not a simple lack of training. I’m going with SMACK speculation.

      1. Yeah, you’re right nam. How can any sane, competent, non crackhead insert a tube with friggin plastic covering on it into a vein and think that its normal?

        I can only imagine the tub of leeches that would be sitting nearby for his hemi treatment if the nurse hasn’t eaten them thinking they were gummy worms.

      2. We Veterans just happen to be the host for the engorged purple team lamprey. Ever see a lamprey? Alien species that only serves itself and contributes not one benefit to it’s hosts or nature.

  9. Seymore and namnibor,
    The problem I see within VA is their hiring practices of “…only hiring friends and family members!”
    This has been an ongoing practice since WHO knows when!

    PLUS, WTF does the VA need with “interior designers”?
    They are, more likely than NOT, responsible for millions of taxpayers monies being spent on useless objects; ie; Color changing wall paint. Leather couches and chairs in waiting rooms, etc., etc.!
    Remember when that Postmaster General in Illinois was caught years ago, redecorating her office, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars?
    After which, she was FIRED! If course, she never paid the monies back and was never held accountable for those illegal transactions!

    What can one expect IF NO one is held accountable for anything! The only thing one can expect is for the criminal activities to continue!

    1. A new VA medical outsourced contract will appear in near future and it will be sent oodles of Choice referrals by name of the “Candyman Group Practice” of Houlihan, Calhoun, & Weiman, L.L.P., Inc., serving Tomah AND Phoenix Veterans Choice Crow. Wait for it…

    2. Elf, You are right on! I am in a major battle with the Indianapolis Fiduciary Hub. I am appalled at the corruption, misconduct, and fraudulent behaviors going on in this hub. I am the mother of a combat wounded, Purple Heart recipient. I was appointed as his fiduciary until a mistake was made and instead of taking accountability, a cover up of their mistake began and continues. They removed me and appointed a new fiduciary who has not paid my son’s expenses, has never returned a call or even met my son but gets it together to cut herself a check for her commission. That’s when I found out one of the responsibilities of the field reps is to have people in mind to act as fiduciaries! Corruption breeds corruption. I am not giving up the fight to stop this appalling way our Veterans are being treated. This goes beyond my son now.I am in the fight to expose this lack of accountability and corruption. Instead of all of us just telling our stories,we should organize, unite and start rallies. I will go it alone, but their is power in numbers and we have an obligation to our hero Veterans to fight for them. After all, they fought for us! Any suggestions how we can come together and fight the fight?

      1. The entire VA Appointed Fiduciary Program is sure to have more than one rabid chipmunk in the woodpile and I am just betting that oodles of VSO’s in different funny hats get these appointees as cherries on top…but that’s just a guess…The VA cannot fucking manage their own shit…appoint those fucks a fiduciary.

      2. Laura,
        You might want to take pen in hand and write the President, Both houses of Congress, Judiciary committee, Secretary of VA and the Veterans committee!
        Even send a letter to Ben Krause!
        Insure all letters, at the bottom, have “C/C”!
        Which stands for “Closed Copy”!
        Two things though. Be expecting a back lash from the VA! And, possibly even a “visit” from them!
        IF your really serious, write as many people in government agencies as possible!

      3. I got the pen! Thanks so much for this information. It will augment what I am doing which is keeping records, phone calls, etc. I try to use emails for documentation. You probably think I’m just another mother with a story. I am another with a story but it hasn’t ended by a long shot! I am one pissed off mother on a mission! Since I am a retired nurse I have all day every day to work on bringing these corrupt, disrespectful, dishonest individuals down. Actually, it’s starting to work, at least making a few miserable. If someone crosses me or my KIDS I am a total bitch. Now it includes all you
        Vets as my family. I hold a great card here,
        because I have my son’s retroactive pay and they immediately released it without a surety bond. I didn’t realize it was a mistake and thought since they released it I guess I don’t need one until I was contacted a couple months later and said I was being removed as fiduciary. They were so rude and wouldn’t be accountable. They have never put in writing that I was removed as a way to cover their mistake. When they started alluding to things like. a criminal investigation was done, blah, blah, blah to make it like I was this mother who misappropriated my son’s money, that was it! Something so important to me! How dare they!!!! This woman lawyer low life is going down and I want her to be investigated and audited for all her current and past fiduciary accounts.So , now she is resigning, the field rep is gone and I am supposed to be happy! Well,,I’m not! These people need consequences and I am not going away. I need to work on how to make this newsworthy.
        Thanks so much, you don’t know how great I feel after feeling some support. It fueled the fire!

      4. Laura,
        Didn’t you say your son was awarded the “Purple Heart”?
        The “Purple Heart Society” is, from my understanding is a great organization! From what’s being said about them you might want to contact them over this issue.
        I don’t know IF they can help, yet, it’s worth it though!

      5. Laura, you should request those financial records showing they paid you the retroactive pay. What are they going to do? Deny it was paid? You should also send the Privacy Officer a FOIA request for documentation as to why you were removed. They either provide them, or lie about it and say no record exists. Either way, you create an embarrassing paper trail for them. You can simply email them they request.

        If I understand your comment correctly, are you saying the fiduciary assigned to your son was a lawyer? If so, and she refused to pay your son’s expenses or to communicate with you, or misspent money of his, she can be sanctioned by the state she is licensed to practice in, and possibly be disbarred. The VA cannot protect her from the state.

        As for any criminal investigation, if you have a record of them telling you that, you should ask the VA or whoever said that for a case number. They are likely claiming that to scare you off.

        You never said whether you have a Power of Attorney for your son. If you had a Power of Attorney when you were his fiduciary, then they should not have been able to assign another fiduciary to him without evidence of you doing wrong. It would be interesting to hear their response to how they assigned someone else as fiduciary if you held a Power of Attorney.

      6. In addition to other suggestions Laura, if you have Facebook, you should search for different veterans groups there and ask for help. Media sometimes view those posts, or you can contact the media on their Facebook page.

        The VA hates bad publicity.

        In addition to that, you should contact Trumps White House hotline for veterans.

        If you contact the VA for anything about this fiduciary, do it in writing. The VA also hates paper trails.

        Once you get their attention, you not only want this corrected, but you want an accounting down to the dann penny about how much that fiduciary received, but also what they spent the money on. If they can’t account for where they spent the money, then contact your local district attorney and ask for an investigation and charges. Depending on the amount stolen, it might be a felony.

        Finally, you need to search on Bens site here for FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, and Privacy Act.

        Have your son assign you as financial and health Power of Attorney, then submit a FOIA request to the VA for records showing why they decided to assign someone else as fiduciary, and what they have done to correct the problem. You also need to request records showing exactly how much should have been paid in disability, how much the fiduciary received, and what it was spent on. Federal agencies are required to respond to those requests within 20 days. They can ask for an extension, but generally have to have a good reason, and provide documentation within 30 days.

        Submit those requests to the Privacy Officer at the local VA.

        I would be calling those bastards daily until I got an answer, because this is just blatant theft.

        Is the current fiduciary a VA employee? Or connected to the VA somehow?

        I hope you report back here on what the results are. If you have questions, please ask.

      7. Laura, the White House hotline number is 855-948-2311.

        If you call the VA or get calls from them, you should record those calls if possible, or take very detailed notes about the call.

      8. Thanks so much for the info, 91vet and an utter vet. You are the best! My hand is sore from writing to elf!

      9. @Laura Fino – – – Definition of Fiduciary, “involving trust, especially with regard to the relationship between a trustee and a beneficiary.” If your son’s health is in jeopardy, or you have proof that the VA has violated your son’s disability or rights of proper care, then I suggest that you somehow obtain a outside Patient Advocate. Check your State, or County listing in the Disability Sections.

        Going it alone with the VA, you’ll need someone with experience that will back you up, not tear you down, or to manipulate, or to confuse things. Get as many allies as you can. And, be ready for some best friends that you thought would back you up, they may pull out on you. Veterans do it to each other too. They split.

        These types never would have hung with you in the first place. Drop em and move on with and for your son’s cause. Like the time consuming process of contacting the lazy ass Politicians who hardly step in to help. It’s below the dignity to offer help right off the bat.

        Google and understand the EMB Triad Model of Treatment, and Patient Care images. These graphs will help you to start thinking. I know, I realize that there’s a lot that has happened, and currently going on. If you haven’t yet, try to establish good premises for the purpose of creating solid arguments that shines the light on the VA’s darkness. Good luck to you Laura Fino. – – – Nutter.

      10. Most attorneys are looking for easy cases to handle. The more complicated, the less interested they will be. Time = Money to most attorneys. Except for the ones that do because their called to do so. Problem is, that there’s not many attorneys who truly back up Veterans.

        And, I recommended the Patient Advocate avenue, because in order to gain any ground with the VA, or to make changes, you’ll need to find a baseline where you can get things stabilized first, and then use the Patient Advocate as a buffer. Wishing you the best. – – – Nutter.

        I get tired of reading stories like Laura’s. Shame on you VA for causing more problems to be thrown into the lap of our Veterans, their love ones, or the Veterans care takers. – – Nutter.

      11. I’ve mentioned this before, the only way the VA is going to dramatically change, if their exposed. How to expose, Social Media, or to wait until someone who truly cares, one that has power, authority, and influence, and then demands changes in the VA. May I remind you, were still waiting for someone. Hello? – – – Nutter.

  10. Dr. Weiman: Bad shit corrupts good shit absolutely. (one turd leads to another philosophy of thought)

    1. With all the moles in the VA whack-a-mole board game and their propensity to continuously prairie dog out the backsides of the VA never being fully removed. It is the VA’s form of human resource management via Fecal Microbiota Transplant.

      In laymen’s terms it is hiding the shit managers before everyone smells them. A better use of the VA budget would be to just pull the handle and throw some water on that shit by flushing it out of the system.

      1. Problem is: these persistent floaters in the VA porcelain bowl also have an extreme thixotropic ability to adhere to the very porcelain surface in-spite of water. You know the type, it even sticks to the toilet brush…as it also goes for VA Whack A Mole (WHAM).

      2. Don’t be mocking fecal transplants. Pig Pharma is in a race to patent it. There’s already a pill you can get instead of a $20,000 surgery. It’s only being allowed here in the US for C Difficile but the Euros are already using it for Crohn/IBS, and of interest to myself – arthropathies. Reset the gut – reset inflammatory responses. I, for one am looking forward to eating shit. If need be, I’ll accede to someone shoving it up my ass (yes – unconscious). I’m on a list for a University trial. Anything to get off the immune supressant.

      3. The VA has been doing Fecal Transplants of years as a by product of their colonoscopy training program.

        “VA: 16 Patients From Clinics Infected”

        “Buffalo VA medical center health alert”
        “BUFFALO, N.Y. – Instruments used in 526 colonoscopies at the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center may not have been properly sanitized.”

        “VA hospital may have infected 1,800 veterans with HIV”

  11. “[… The other is Darryl Weiman, former head of surgery….Now, an unusual twist here is that Dr. Weiman is both a surgeon and a lawyer who lectures frequently against malpractice and other legal hang-ups surgeons frequently run into…]”

    That “failure to lead” was obviously taken out of context and the word “lead” is actually the poisonous metallic substance. Dr. Weiman failed to kill enough Veterans with his surgical lead pipe and was not *quite* evil enough for the VA.

    1. Dr. Weiman being both a Dr. and an attorney makes him a utilitarian oxymoron and liability to the VA. WHO KNEW you could be such a lackadaisical asshole to get fired from the VA? HE WILL BE BACK…whack-a-mole game is on…wait for it…

  12. “Memphis VA whistleblower fired a day before Trump signed bill protecting whistleblowers”
    Jake Lowary, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
    Published 2:45 p.m. CT June 26, 2017

    “Just a day before President Donald Trump signed into law protections for whistleblowers at Veterans Affairs facilities around the country, the whistleblower at the Memphis VA facility was handed a termination letter.

    The June 22 letter says Sean Higgins had showed “disruptive behavior” and used profanity in the workplace. Higgins said the move is the product of retaliation from upper-level administrators whom he had accused of unethical behavior.”

    “Higgins’ time at the VA has been a roller coaster ride that has seen him already fired twice and his position reinstated after appealing those decisions. In May, he filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel alleging reprisal for whistleblowing.

    Higgins has filed more than 30 “disclosures” in the past alleging a range of problems at the facility, including failing to clean dialysis equipment, leaving paralyzed patients unattended and purchasing fraud schemes.

    1. “In pushing the legislation, VA Secretary David Shulkin more than once used the case of an employee at the Memphis facility as an example of why the bill was necessary. Brittney Lowe, an interior decorator employed at the Memphis VA, returned to work after serving a 60-day jail sentence for a third DUI conviction”

      1. “Memphis VA disputes claim that worker was paid during 60-day jail sentence” Jake Lowary, USA TODAY NETWORK – TennesseePublished 12:03 p.m. CT May 18, 2017

        “Brittney Lowe, 32, of Southaven, Miss., was on paid administrative leave, but was using donated leave time, according to Memphis VA whistleblower Sean Higgins.”

        “Higgins said Lowe is an interior designer at the facility, responsible for procuring new furniture and other office supplies needed in the hospital. Higgins said the facility is in the process of hiring another employee to drive vehicles that Lowe would normally drive as part of her work duties.

        “How are you going to add another body when you have somebody who can’t drive,” he said.”

      2. One could argue that the VA places much more emphasis on their recruitment of their army of interior designers than the very hired hacks to do the basics of mission: Assist Veterans. THAT’s why 3x DUI was even tolerated; interior designers are also the VA’s Disruptive Committee. Be careful, they hide in the cleverly disguised color-changing walls and furniture.

      3. “Memphis VA gets third interim director”
        Kevin McKenzie, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 2:03 p.m. CT Feb. 17, 2017

        “An associate medical director from the Veterans Affairs medical center in Lexington, Kentucky, has been named the third interim director since last February for the Memphis VA Medical Center.

        James E. Belmont on Thursday became interim director for the Memphis center, on loan from the Lexington medical center where he has been associate medical center director since 2013, according to VA officials.

        Belmont relieves David Wood, who arrived in October on loan as director of the VA medical center in Boise, Idaho. Wood replaced William H. Mills, former director of the VA center in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

        The Memphis VA has operated with temporary directors since the VA announced in February 2016 that Dr. C. Diane Knight was no longer director “due to the recent under-performance” of the center.”

      4. Looks like VISN leadership is failing to lead and act in hiring a competent director there.

        From what you describe, they are sending Associate Directors from around the country on TDY to Memphis. Likely test driving them to see whether they do any good and can clean up the mess, or if they even want the job once they get there. It sure as hell cannot be because they are taking time vetting a new director before they hire them. Their current crop of directors shows they don’t do much vetting at all other than whether they can keep their mouth shut on corruption and incompetence.

      5. A nurse executive at the VA hospital in Virginia got detailed to central office after her multiple dui convictions and she lost her drivers license for a year. She couldnt drive to central office either so she got to “work” from her house for a year analyzing nurse staffing levels. Her temp replacement had his housing paid for and meals too. If I can’t make it to work, I’d get fired.

      6. Since she was sent to VACO, it means she was ordered there for a detail. VA managers should be able to do this with any employee who screws up, but they don’t, likely because so many screw up daily.

        Do a search on directed reassignment. VA management can also do that, but they don’t. They leave the incompetents where they are to continue screwing up.

  13. I’m going to have to reread all of the information Ben put on here today. Only, the following statement comes to mind!
    Maybe “IF” VA were to hire “Top Grade professional healthcare providers”, instead of the “bottom feeders of the healthcare profession”, there wouldn’t need to be people FIRED!

    1. The problem is, the VA has highly craptastic medical and management doing the HIRING and they will do as a pile of shit does on the sidewalk on a warm day: attract all the blow-flies and produce even more maggots and blow flies. Again, one turd always leads to another at the VA and the VA requires a complete enema, which means unfortunately, flushing the good with the bad and starting over. Bad shit corrupts good shit absolutely.


    2. majority of them work for beer money and the rest are unable to get employment in the public workforce.

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