Terminated VA director James Talton hired by Ala. Dept. of Public Health

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In 2014, James Talton was the first employee terminated by the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System (CAVHCS) for neglect of duty following a law that that helped speed up the process of removing top VA executives for poor performance or misconduct.

On Friday, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) confirmed he’s hired by the department and named the new Public Health Administrative Officer. WFSA 12 News reports according to the Alabama State Personnel Department, Talton’s salary with ADPH is $86,390.40.

Talton’s firing from the CAVHCS came amid numerous allegations of rampant abuse and mismanagement at a VA health care facility in Phoenix, Arizona. At the time, Alabama 2nd District Rep. Martha Roby said the Phoenix revelations, particularly the scheduling fraud, “sounded familiar” compared to the many complaints she received from veteran constituents.

By June, it was reported that CAVHCS employees had engaged in particularly egregious scheduling manipulation. And, even with the artificially inflated numbers, CAVHCS had some of the longest wait times for veterans patients in the country.

“Numerous instances of misconduct, negligence and cover-up within the Central Alabama VA led to our system becoming one of the nation’s worst,” Roby said in 2014.

Ultimately Roby and her staff began digging deeper to find out what was really happening inside CAVHCS, which ultimately led to Talton being placed on administration leave in August while the administrative and clinical practices of CAVHCS were being investigated.

In October, Talton was fired.

Roby deemed it “a necessary and important step toward instilling accountability at the VA and building trust within the veteran community.”

 

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11 Comments

  1. George Montgomery on

    I think he’s​ good man, maybe a little too cocky and trusting. No

    • Ron Whitney on

      Well, you have to monumentally flawed to get terminated by the VA. I mean, really, you have to screw up beyond comprehension. How this translates to a “good man” is questionable. The people of Alabama are being put at risk with this hire.

  2. Talton was used as a tool. Roby and the rest her people went after him to not only make a name for herself, but because we still live in the good old boy days. I’m sure Talton had some problems, don’t we all but he was as the sacrificial lamb! I wish him much success and thanks to him for all the good things he did for the VA Medical Center

  3. Robert Brown on

    Alabama is the lowest state getting anything. The last to get a decent VA clinic or hospital. Two of our military posts have been closed ! The benefits division in Montgomery is the worst in giving compensation ! I been on 20 C& P exams and the doctors lied every time so I would be cheated of compensation and even awarded on condition by the appeals judge and they said it wasn’t bad enough after what they have done to me . I filed a 1151 claim for a bad medicine but they ignore my claim. I was shot up with iodine while on that medicine that I was never suppose to be on ! The evil in the VA will never go away !

  4. Vehement Veteran on

    When the ship runs aground – the Captain gets replaced, not the navigator. It comes with the job. Roby didn’t force the whistleblowers who came forward to do so, which means Talton’s leadership issues were of his own making.

    But let’s get real. State Health Officer Tom Miller said Talton will be overseeing a group of units, including finance, information technology and vital statistics. Miller actually added Talton is a “good fit” for the job based on his experience! The manipulation of VITAL STATISTICS (as well as several other issues of neglect) is what got Talton fired.

    There were only a handful of VA Administrators fired as a result of the waiting time scandal, which actually originated in Phoenix, AZ a few years ago. Talton and the Phoenix director were both fired, but it was Talton’s appeal, which was denied. Heck, they even made a new law so they could fire him faster!

    According to a Department of Veterans Affairs audit at the time, more than 57 percent of the CAVHCS staff said they were told to manipulate scheduling to reflect shorter wait times for patients, Less than 9 percent of Birmingham VA employees and 17 percent of Tuscaloosa VA workers said they had received the same instructions. The national VA survey showed about 13 percent of employees were told to improperly list wait times.

    Don’t forget, this is the same guy chosen to lead Finance, IT and STATISTICS! It’s even more sobering to think the manipulation masked the growing demand as new waves of veterans returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and as Vietnam veterans aged and needed more health care attention.

    I don’t know who Mr. Miller spoke with in terms of Talton’s references, but I can tell you it wasn’t Republican Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, who said after hearing Talton was terminated, “I’m pleased the department has finally reached the same conclusion about James Talton that nearly every person familiar with CAVHCS’s problems came to long ago.”

    Of course that’s history, but it’s not a leap in logic to see Alabama may be doomed to repeat it. Alabama has a dubious track record when states are ranked by Overall Health Outcomes, especially when it comes to chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiac complications and blood pressure. Last year we were 49th in Overall Outcomes.

    I’m going on record right now and saying Alabama will make a miraculous, unprecedented climb up the rankings within two years. After all with Talton leading STATISTICS, Mr. Miller has exactly what he wanted – “A good fit, based on his experience!”

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