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Hampton VA director to resign: “If you can’t focus on the mission, you better let someone else do it”

David C. Collins, the new director of the Hampton VA Medical Center, poses for a portrait outside the main hospital on Monday, October 21, 2019.

SARAH HOLM, THE DAILY PRESS/TNS

By LISA VERNON SPARKS | The Daily Press | Published: September 11, 2020

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (Tribune News Service) — The Hampton VA Medical Center director plans to resign later this month after about a year on the job.

David C. Collins, a 28-year veteran of the Navy Medical Service Corps, notified staff and leadership via email Thursday, a spokesman said.

Citing personal and family issues demanding more of his attention, Collins said he struggled with the decision for a few months, ultimately deciding his last day will be Friday, Sept. 25.

The medical center’s chief of staff Dr. Shawn Alexander is expected to serve as acting executive director when Collins steps down.

“I have not been able to concentrate on the primary mission. Maybe it’s my military background ... if you can’t focus on the mission, you better let someone else do it,” Collins told the Daily Press. “It’s been my privilege and pleasure to work in the VA. The staff has been phenomenal, and I know I leave them in good hands with Dr. Alexander.”

In a note to staff, Collins said has served a combined 38 years in the U.S. Navy and the veterans administration and that it has been a great adventure, but it is time to start a new personal chapter.

Alexander, 51, is an internist and has served as chief of staff since May. He began his career at the Hampton VA in 2009 as a hospitalist, later serving as chief of medicine service.

During his tenure, Collin oversaw a roughly $471 million operating budget and managed health care to more than 50,000 veterans at the medical center and outpatient clinics in Virginia Beach and Elizabeth City, N.C.

Collins said that primary care staffing for veterans has improved under his watch and the VA has laid groundwork for expansion of facilities in South Hampton Roads including a large health care clinic coming in 2024.

“Those are victories,” Collins said.

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