Sioux Falls Va Healthcare Leader Reassigned Amid Complaints

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The director of the Sioux Falls VA Healthcare System has been reassigned following a multitude of complaints about mismanagement.

The VA’s Midwest region director Robert McDivitt said Lisa Simoneau will stay with the Veterans Affairs Department and serve at regional headquarters in the Twin Cities.

VA employees in Sioux Falls were notified this week that Simoneau would no longer lead that office.

According to a letter from Sen. Mike Rounds to Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough at least 46 employees left during Simoneau's tenure, which began in January 2020.

“According to whistleblowers who have contacted my office, the SFVA medical center is a hostile work environment, where employees are mistreated and veteran care is not a priority.”

Rounds said he was concerned that patient care was at risk because of the leadership issues.

Simoneau did not respond to a message for comment Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson met with veterans at the Military Heritage Alliance in Sioux Falls Wednesday and heard firsthand about the problems.

“The wait times to call in were absolutely unacceptable, the average wait times were at 52 or 55 minutes,” said Johnson.

According to Johnson, those wait times have improved, KELO-TV reported.

“Our congressional delegation does not normally get involved in calling for somebody to be reassigned but in this instance, it was just clear that a change had to be made, obviously that is going to create a little bit of disruption. I think getting the right leadership in place is going to make a big impact long term,” said Johnson.

Dr. Timothy Pendergrass, the current chief of staff, will take over as the interim director. The Sioux Falls VA medical center serves 25,000 veterans in eastern South Dakota.