Dayton VA chief to retire from post

Published: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 9:50 AM
Updated: Monday, July 17, 2017 @ 6:30 PM

Dayton VA Medical Center CEO Glenn Costie plans to retire in October after 33 years with the VA

The Dayton VA Medical Center director recognized nationally for his work to help two embattled VA medical facilities in the midst of scandals will step down in October from the local top post.

Glenn Costie, 55, announced his retirement Monday to give the VA time to find and train a replacement before he leaves.

“I feel like the organization is doing really well,” he said in an interview at the Dayton VA. “Dayton is a top performing medical organization for our veterans and it just felt like it was the right time for me to go start a new chapter in my life.”

RELATED: Dayton VA director plans to return after stint in Phoenix

Costie said he’s in negotiations with a Miami Valley health care provider on a new leadership post, but declined to elaborate Monday.

The Dayton VA leader gained national attention when he was appointed for several months to oversee two troubled VA facilities in Phoenix in 2014 and Cincinnati last year, temporarily stepping aside from duties in Dayton each time.

Pushing for transformation and fixing broken cultures is not new for Costie — it’s what brought him to the Dayton VA 2011 in the midst of a dental clinic hygiene scandal.

In Phoenix, hundreds of staff were added to deal with a patient backlog. In Cincinnati, Costie said he tried to give employees “hope” in the midst of a high-level staff shake-up. He aided in the recruitment and selection of a new leader in Cincinnati, Costie said.

“Defining the culture and transforming it was one of my biggest challenges at both facilities and I think it’s one of my biggest successes here in Dayton,” he said.

The Dayton dental clinic today ranks nationally among VA medical centers for patient satisfaction, he said.

RELATED: Threats will drive BRAC strategy, AF leader says

During his tenure, the number of patients at Dayton VA facilities rose 11 percent to 39,724 last year while patient satisfaction ratings rose by double digits, according to the VA. In 2013, the VA ranked the Dayton medical center among 32 facilities as “top performers.”

However, Costie also has faced controversy at the Dayton VA. In 2015, a whistleblower employee brought attention to a patient backlog at the pulmonary clinic. The VA reported “scheduling irregularities” when a prior employee used an informal list to set up appointments.

At the time, Costie said 150 patients had died before they could be seen for appointments, but a VA panel investigation determined none of the patients died because of a lack of care. The employees who were involved in the situation faced “some of the most severe accountability measures we can take,” Costie said Monday.

EXCLUSIVE: Top AF general says without a budget ‘all programs are at risk’

With patient wait times an issue at VA hospitals and clinics across the nation and a rising tide of veterans returning from years of wars, the agency faced heightened public and congressional scrutiny. Washington has sent billions of dollars more to the VA and lawmakers have passed legislation to increase accountability in the organization nationally.

National VA History Center in Dayton

In perhaps the biggest announcement while he was director, the VA announced Dayton was selected to be the future home of a VA National History Center. The future museum and archive, with an estimated $20 million to $25 million price tag expected to be significantly dependent on private fund raising, will be housed in a yet-to-be restored former VA national headquarters and a club house. The West Dayton campus was named a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

The Dayton VA, one of the first three national hospitals set up to medically treat veterans, marks its 150th anniversary in 2017. The campus was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Becoming the first community in Ohio to “effectively” end veterans’ homelessness in the Dayton region with a collaboration of community groups was a key milestone, he said.

RELATED: Dayton VA chief sent temporarily to Cincinnati

U.S. District Judge Walter H. Rice, leader of the American Veterans Heritage Center on the VA campus, said Costie has worked to integrate the campus with the community more than any other Dayton VA leader in decades. He called Costie’s departure “a loss.”

“At a time when the VA generally is under some negative publicity, he’s done just a tremendous job of improving the image of the VA in this community,” Rice said.

Ohio’s congressional lawmakers noted Costie’s departure.

RELATED: Closed Wright-Patterson drinking water wells could reopen

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner said in a statement Costie was “a national figure for saving veterans affairs facilities.” The lawmaker said he worked with Costie to bring additional housing for senior citizens and the national history center to the West Dayton campus.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called Costie “an innovative leader” at the VA.

“His retirement will leave a void not just in Dayton, but in the VA as a whole where Glenn’s efforts have had important impacts across the nation,” the senator said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Costie served the state’s veterans well in both Dayton and Cincinnati.

The Dayton VA has about 2,000 employees and cares for about 40,000 patients a year. It operates clinics in Lima, Springfield, Middletown and Richmond, Ind.

Dayton VA Director leaving

Dayton VA Medical Center Director Glenn Costie announced Monday he will retire from the top leadership post in October.

Here are a few key dates in his career in Dayton.

December 2011: Costie becomes Dayton VA to deal with a dental clinic hygiene scandal.

July 2014 to October 2014: Interim Director at the Phoenix VA medical center.

April 2016: Dayton VA named future home of National VA History Center

May 2015 to October 2016: Interim director at the Cincinnati VA medical center.

October 2017: Costie sets retirement from the Dayton VA.

Retired Florida judge celebrates 87th birthday by swimming from Alcatraz to SF 

Published: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 2:24 AM

The former site of Alcatraz prison.
Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
The former site of Alcatraz prison.(Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

A retired Florida circuit judge celebrated his 87th birthday by swimming from Alcatraz to San Francisco’s Aquatic Park, KGO reported.

>> Read more trending news

Bob Beach navigated the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay in 46 minutes on Tuesday, averaging 67 strokes per minute.

“Water has been a big part of my life,” Beach told KGO. 

Beach grew up in Santa Monica, California, and put himself through the University of Tampa by working in a Tampa strip club, the Tampa Bay Times reported in 2008. He graduated from the Stetson College of Law in 1958. He took up swimming in his 30s after quitting chain-smoking cold turkey.

“Swimming makes you emotionally very tranquil,” Beach told KGO.

Swimming from the site of the infamous prison was not lost on the former judge.

“When I send those guys away, I can tell them I relate to them,” he told KGO.

Beach is no stranger to strenuous athletic endeavors. He also hiked up Mount Kilimanjaro and did a parachute jump in Africa. His next swim is scheduled to be under the Golden Gate Bridge, KGO reported.

Beach retired as a circuit court judge in Pinellas County, Florida, in 1993. He said his birthday swim was exhilarating.

“To say that you swam from Alcatraz on your 87th birthday and you made it. Are you kidding me?” Beach told KGO. “I’ll never have a birthday like this.”

Obamacare repeal fails again in Senate; McCain key ‘no’ vote

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2017 @ 6:32 PM
Updated: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 1:51 AM

McCain votes no on Obamacare repeal

With Sen. John McCain casting a dramatic decisive vote, the Senate early Friday morning narrowly defeated a scaled back bill dismantling the 2010 health law, leaving in question the future of GOP promises to repeal the law known as Obamacare.

SPEAK OUT ON FACEBOOK: Tell us what you think on our Ohio Politics page

The 49-51 defeat – capping hours of drama on the Senate floor - left open the question of whether congressional Republicans can carry through with a key 2016 key promise to repeal the law known as Obamacare. 

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, joined McCain in voting against the measure. Their votes were less surprising – both have been consistent critics of the GOP proposals. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, opposed the bill and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio supported it. 

The vote – which began shortly before 1:30 a.m. Friday – capped a dramatic week that included a press conference late Thursday where three Republican senators – including McCain - essentially pleaded that the Republican legislative package not become law.

Calling the Senate proposal “a fraud” and “a disaster,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said he was prepared to vote for the Senate package only if House Speaker Paul Ryan promised not to pass make that bill a law. The Senate bill, he said, “was never sold to be the final product” – only as a means to get something passed so that House and Senate negotiators could work out the final details. He was joined McCain and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. 

“Politically, this would be the dumbest thing in history to throw this out there, collapse the individual market and own the problem when Obamacare is collapsing,” Graham said.

Ryan responded hours later, saying “If moving forward requires a conference committee that is something the House is willing to do.” A phone call between Ryan, Johnson and Graham at around 9:45 p.m. Thursday sealed the deal: Graham and Johnson would vote for the Senate plan after all, if only to move the repeal of the bill forward.

McCain, recently diagnosed with brain cancer and recovering from a surgery, resisted.

Providing less suspense to the negotiations, Portman, R-Ohio, announced early Thursday afternoon that he would support the scaled-back bill, which on Capitol Hill quickly was dubbed a “skinny repeal.” Portman said “we need to repeal and replace” Obamacare, saying “this law isn't working for Ohio families and small businesses who've seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket.”

The bill would have repealed for eight years the requirement that employers provide health care, repealed the medical device tax for three years and defunded Planned Parenthood for a year. It would also have ended the requirement that people buy health insurance or pay a fine. 

From the beginning, Republican senators acknowledged that they were only backing the most recent Senate plan to keep the process alive.

“If there was a health-care bill which couldn't get 51 Senate votes, why would lawmakers assume that a conference committee will magically come up with a solution that the Senate will pass?” said Brian Riedl, a former chief economist for Portman and now a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative nonprofit in Washington.

Medical organizations, meanwhile, warned that without the fines for not buying coverage, the already fragile federally subsidized marketplaces established by Obamacare could collapse.

“Eliminating the mandate to obtain coverage only exacerbates the affordability problem that critics say they want to address,” said David O. Barbe, president of the American Medical Association. “Instead, it leads to adverse selection that would increase premiums and destabilize the individual market.”

As Senate GOP leaders struggled to craft their scaled-down package, sullen conservatives already were blaming more-moderate Republicans for the inability to act on campaign promises during the past seven years to scrap Obamacare and devise a more market oriented alternative.

“This process was always going to be difficult—no consensus was built over the past seven years—but this week’s gamesmanship on the Senate floor highlights why conservatives are justifiably frustrated with the obstinacy of their more moderate colleagues,” said Michael Needham, chief executive officer of the Heritage Foundation, another conservative nonprofit in Washington.

STAY IN THE KNOW: Sign up for our Ohio Politics and other newsletters

Because details of the package weren’t made public until late Thursday, it was difficult to calculate how many Americans would lose coverage. Democrats passed around a report suggesting more than 500,000 people in Ohio would lose insurance coverage and premiums in the individual market could rise by $550 per person.

Brown cited an analysis by a former insurance company CEO who is now a Case Western Reserve University professor showing "the so-called 'skinny repeal' would lead to millions losing coverage while driving up insurance costs on middle-income Americans and leaving taxpayers with a larger bill to cover."

OVI checkpoint scheduled for West Chester Twp. tonight

Published: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 1:40 AM

WEST CHESTER TWP. — The Butler County O.V.I. Task Force will conduct an OVI checkpoint in West Chester Twp. on July 28.

WATCH: Miami Valley's Most Wanted

The checkpoint will be held from 9 p.m. on Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday on Ohio 747 north at Peters Place just south of Mulhauser Road, according to a Butler County O.V.I. Task Force news release.  

LOCAL NEWS: 4 local cases of mothers who killed their infant children

Officers, deputies and troopers will aggressively combat alcohol related crashes by combining the checkpoint with saturation patrols, according to the task force news release.  

The Butler County O.V.I. Task Force is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Ohio Department of Public Safety. 

Police: Minnesota man arrested for threatening Social Security employees

Published: Friday, July 28, 2017 @ 1:29 AM

Leonard Booth was arrested Wednesday.
Leonard Booth was arrested Wednesday.

A Minnesota man was arrested Wednesday after threatening employees at a Social Security office, KAAL reported.

>> Read more trending news

According to Capt. John Sherwin of the Rochester Police Department, Leonard Booth, 26, walked into the Social Security office at 10:15 a.m. and complained that he was unable to receive benefits. Booth began “acting erratically” and threatened employees with bodily harm, Sherwin told KAAL.

Sherwin was arrested by police and taken to the Olmsted County Adult Detention Center, KAAL reported. During the booking process, Sherwin said officers found Booth in possession of less than a gram of cocaine.

Booth is facing a felony terroristic threats charge and a fifth-degree controlled substance charge, KAAL reported.