General in charge of Walter Reed hospital is fired

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 7:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

WASHINGTON — The Army on Thursday fired the general in charge of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, saying he was the wrong person to fix embarrassing failures in the treatment of war-injured soldiers that have soiled the institution's reputation as a first-class hospital.

Less than a week after Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Walter Reed and said those responsible would be "held accountable," the Army announced it had relieved Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman of command.

He is a physician who had headed the hospital for only six months.

In a brief announcement, the Army said service leaders had "lost trust and confidence" in Weightman's leadership abilities "to address needed solutions for soldier outpatient care." It said the decision to fire him was made by Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey.

The Army and the Defense Department began investigations after The Washington Post published stories last week that documented problems in soldiers' housing and in the medical bureaucracy at Walter Reed, which has been called the Army's premier caregiver for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problems at Walter Reed pertain not to the quality of medical care for wounded soldiers but rather to the treatment of those who are well enough to be outpatients, living in Army housing at Walter Reed.

One building was singled out in the Post reports as being in bad repair, including having mold on interior walls.

Weightman is the highest-ranking Army general to be sacked since Gen. Kevin Byrnes was dismissed as commander of Army Training and Doctrine Command in 2005 for an alleged adulterous affair.

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