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Hospital efficiency specialist has advice for Phoenix VA leadership replacement

PHOENIX — The leader of a group that looks at hospital efficiency has an idea what the Veteran’s Administration should be looking for in a new director for its hospital in Phoenix.

Gene Schneller is co-director of the Health Sector Supply Chain Research Consortium, which is a collaborative effort between Arizona State University and hospitals. It looks at how hospitals can boost their performance.

He has some advice for the VA as it looks for a new hospital director. “I think that they need to look for somebody who can deal with the complexity of the environment that they’re in, and to structure care to get the most out of the dollars that they have allocated to them through the Congress,” Schneller said.

He said that the new person needs to have one quality in particular. “I think that the person coming in is going to have to be, first of all, a healer, to make sure that the employees will be behind the kind of changes that need to be done,” Schneller said.

One way that the healing can begin, Schneller said, is to hire a director who won’t point fingers at employees.

“I think you don’t blame the people who have been vilified, to some extent, of doing this, but you need to be able to pull them back in and provide an opportunity to craft innovative kinds of solutions,” he said.

Schneller said that it’s the VA system that needs to be fixed, not just the hospital in Phoenix.