Following the July 8th announcement that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be restricting the Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI), acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson announced that Dr. Gerard R. Cox, M.D., MHA, will take over as interim-director of the OMI. Dr. Cox was tapped to fill the role following the June 30th resignation of Dr. John Pierce.
The OMI is the area of the VA that monitors the quality of care provided to our nation’s Veterans. Veteran patients, caretakers, family members and VA employees are encouraged to notify the OMI of any issues pertaining to the quality of VA healthcare.
In the wake of the VA wait-time scandal and the fear of whistle-blower retribution, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) sent a letter to President Obama, prompting Gibson to order a full review of the OMI’s operations, processes, and structure. After the review, Gibson saw a need to restructure the OMI and revise the office’s policies, procedures and personnel, and Cox will be at the helm for the restructuring.
For more than 30 years, Dr. Cox served as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy. Among the highlights of his military career were Cox’s deployment in support of Operation Desert Storm, while serving concurrently as Force Surgeon for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Assistant Inspector General of the Navy for Medical Matters.
Dr. Cox’s experience in medicine, along with his leadership and administrative skills are expected to help right the ship within the OMI. One reason that Gibson may have received the nod over other candidates may have been his short time with the VA.
“In response to the revelations by the Office of Special Counsel, we need new leadership and a fresh look from outside of OMI to assist in this transition,” Gibson said. “I expect Dr. Cox to help us restructure OMI to better serve Veterans and create a strong internal audit function, which will ensure issues of care quality and patient safety remain at the forefront.”
As long-term restructuring of the OMI moves forward, the VA has suspended the OMI’s hotline, and is referring all hotline calls to the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
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