Kansas City VA hospital director transferring amid allegations of systemic racism at agency

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the wake of allegations of racial discrimination, harassment and mistreatment at the Kansas City VA Medical Center, Director David Isaacks has announced he’s transferring.

Isaacks announced his transfer to the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System via an internal email sent to VA staff on Tuesday evening. His last day with the Kansas City VA will be July 17.

This comes as three new federal lawsuits were filed claiming more systemic and racial bias by Black VA workers.

To date, there are reportedly more than 50 active legal cases against the hospital, many reported under Isaacks’ leadership.

“Given the track record we’ve seen with Mr. Isaacks and what’s come out of the Kansas City VA, I think it’s going to help,” attorney Nimrod Chapel said. “It’s probably good there’s a change in leadership at the Kansas City VA. I know there is a lot of individuals with hurt feelings — not just hurt feelings, broken bodies and broken careers.”

Chapel said this could provide an opportunity for accountability and movement forward at the hospital for all workers. He still plans to push for the VA to be held accountable for alleged conduct that happened while Isaacks was director.

“This is an opportunity for the VA, particularly in Kansas City, to come forward, accept responsibility for the conduct and harm that has been brought, not only to the employees — Black, female, male, veterans included — but also people receiving services there,” Chapel said. “If we don’t have accountability and responsibility stepping forward in a way that is transparent, I think we are going to truly miss this opportunity.”

Isaacks, who has worked the for VA since 2006, joined the Kansas City site in September 2019.

Shortly after taking that position, that’s when FOX4 started to hear from Black workers at the VA complaining of systemic racism at the agency. The allegations were first made public when more than a dozen employees exclusively spoke with FOX4 in March 2020.

FOX4 received the internal email sent to VA staff announcing the departure. In the email from Isaacks, he praised the VA’s accomplishments, such as site renovations and COVID-19 pandemic response.

Current workers are questioning the timing of his transfer.

A Kansas City VA worker who has asked to remain anonymous sent the following statement:

“The Captain should never abandon the ship or his crew, but Director David Isaacks is aware that the Kansas City VA ship is sinking. It is sinking due to his lack of accountability, lack of ethics, transparency and racial sensitivity to Blacks at the KCVA facility.

Director Isaacks has significantly failed as a leader and through his power and arrogance he created a conquer and divide system that continues to destroy the lives of many Black staff that are also Veterans who have honorably served this country.

We are not fooled by his blanketed statements on diversity and inclusion. We are insulted that he hired a white woman to benefit as our new Diversity and Inclusion Chief on the back of complaints made by the underrepresented Black staff.

“The over 50 active legal cases represent the legacy of Director Isaacks. He used career advancements as a game of life, forcing many Black staff to turn their heads to the racism they endured at the KCVA. Director Isaacks operated without regard or mercy as he allowed Black staff to be blocked from professional growth. He awarded blacks and hand-picked those for newly created roles that remained out of litigation, they were showcased. Those staff were later used as the official interpreter on minority issues.

“The continued fall of the KCVA is due to a failed system, a “good old boy system” that is operated through a slave master mentality. David Isaacks had the opportunity to make a difference he turned his back and carried the torch of racism in a covert manner.

“The spirit that lives behind the walls of the KCVA is not patriotic but oppressive to Black people.”

Isaacks, nor the KCVA, has publicly addressed the situation or released a statement about the transfer.

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