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Army fires commander of Walter Reed hospital

Story Highlights

• Commander of Walter Reed Army hospital fired after poor conditions found
• Building 18 has mold, holes in walls, newspaper said
• Army secretary said top brass didn't know about problems
• Wounded troops from Iraq, Afghanistan wars treated at facility
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top general at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was fired Thursday, the military announced, following revelations of poor conditions in the building where troops who were wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq are treated.

Maj. Gen. George Weightman's firing was the first major military staff change after reports surfaced last month about substandard conditions in a building that is part of the facility.

Army Secretary Francis Harvey, who removed Weightman from his post according to an Army statement, had blamed a failure of leadership for the conditions, which were first reported by The Washington Post.

According to the Army statement, "Maj. Gen. Weightman was informed this morning that the senior Army leadership had lost trust and confidence in the commander's leadership abilities to address needed solutions for soldier-outpatient care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center."

"The commanding general of U.S. Army Medical Command, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, will be acting temporarily as Walter Reed commander until a general officer is selected for this important leadership position," the statement said.

The Post report centered on Building 18. Last week, workers were repairing plumbing, covering holes in ceilings and repainting mold-covered walls in the building. (Watch a tour of the run-down facility Video)

Weightman also served as commanding general of the North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, the statement said.

Last week, Harvey directed that Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard Cody develop and implement an Army Action Plan to address shortcomings at Walter Reed and elsewhere.

The focus areas are: soldier accountability, health and welfare; infrastructure; medical administrative process; and information dissemination.

Cody put a 30-day deadline on many of these actions.

In an interview with CNN last week, Harvey said, "if we would have known about this, we would have fixed it. Unfortunately, we didn't know about it."

The Post article, titled "The Other Walter Reed," said outpatients at the facility also include veterans who suffer from depression and were involved in overdoses and suicide attempts.

Walter Reed is the Army's top medical facility. It opened in 1901 in a single small building and now is a complex of structures with 28 acres of floor space.

The hospital can accommodate 250 patients and admits more than 14,000 a year. Thousands use its outpatient facilities daily.

President Bush has visited wounded troops at the hospital several times, and presidents often receive medical care there.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005 recommended closing Walter Reed in 2010.

Harvey said an "action plan" was being put together "to ensure across the board that our soldiers are being taken care of with the highest quality medicine possible in the kind of facilities that provide a quality of life for the soldier that is equal to the quality of their service."

He added, "To have it in this condition is disappointing to me, unacceptable to me as the secretary of the Army, and we have a plan in place."


Maj. Gen. George Weightman is seen in a U.S. military photograph.



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