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South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)

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Leadership Team

Christopher R Sandles, Director

Christopher R Sandles | 210-617-5140

Director

Christopher R. Sandles, MBA, FACHE, was appointed Director for the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) on March 3, 2019. With an FY19 budget of $802 million and 4000 employees, Mr. Sandles oversees health care services for about 97,000 unique Veterans. In FY18, STVHCS provided 1.2 million outpatient visits to area Veterans. From February 2017 to March 2019, Mr. Sandles served as Director for the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System in Temple, Texas. Mr. Sandles has 16 years of progressively responsible healthcare leadership roles beginning his healthcare career in 2002 at Covenant Health System in Lubbock, Texas. In 2003, he was accepted into the Government Health Administration Training Program (GHATP) and served his post graduate fellowship at VA North Texas Healthcare System in Dallas. His VA service includes positions as Associate Director at Houston VA Medical Center, Assistant Director at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Chief of Health Administration Service at VA Loma Linda Health Care System, Assistant Chief of Medical Administration at VA North Texas Health Care System, Special Assistant to the Director-VA North Texas Health Care System, and Administrative Director for Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at VA North Texas Health Care System. Mr. Sandles received both his Bachelor's degree in Business and his Masters of Healthcare Administration from Texas Tech University. He holds a green belt certification in Lean Six-Sigma from Villanova University. Mr. Sandles is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, and is a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve (IRR). In 2019 Mr. Sandles was selected by the Texas Hospital Association as a Healthcare Leadership Fellow.


Julianne Flynn, M.D., Chief of Staff

Julianne Flynn, M.D. | 210-617-5176

Chief of Staff

Dr. Julianne Flynn is the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS), Chief of Staff. Dr. Flynn is currently serving our country as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves where she is Individual Medical Augmentee to the Deputy Director, Medical Operations and Research, Office of the Air Force Surgeon General. Dr. Flynn is board certified in Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Psychosomatics and on staff with University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Flynn received her Medical Degree from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine in 1996 and completed an Internal Medicine and Psychiatry residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2001. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. Throughout her career, Dr. Flynn has held several positions in medicine and public service. While on active duty, she served as Chief of Psychiatric Consultation Liaison Service, Deputy Chief, Intensive Addictions Services, and Site Associate Residency Training Director for the National Capital Consortium Psychiatry Residency for Andrews AFB. In 2003 she deployed as a Critical Care Air Transport (CCAT) physician as part of the 447th EMEDS, and then assumed the role of Chief of the Emergency Services at 447th EMEDS, Baghdad, Iraq. In June 2004, she was selected as Deputy Residency Training Director for the UTHSCSA/SAUSHEC Psychiatry Residency at Wilford Hall Medical Center. In 2007, she left active duty and joined STVHCS where she has held positions as Substance Abuse Treatment Program Medical Director and Associate Chief of Staff for Mental Health until she was selected as STVHCS Chief of Staff in August, 2010.


Lisa J. Simoneau, Associate Director

Lisa J. Simoneau | 210-617-5300

Associate Director

Lisa Simoneau is the Associate Director at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) in San Antonio. With an FY18 budget of $755 million, she is responsible for the daily operations for Medical Administration Service, Prosthetics, Logistics, Human Resources Management Service, and Fiscal. She has 29 years of VA experience. Prior to joining STVHCS, she served as the Assistant Director at the Miami VA Healthcare System. Her background includes healthcare administration, logistics, contracting, strategic and capital planning, budgeting, data center management, quality assurance, data analysis and management, and construction project management. Ms. Simoneau completed a year-long Health Care Executive Fellowship at the CAPT James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center, North Chicago, IL, an integrated Navy / VA medical facility serving Veterans, active duty members, and dependents. She also worked for the Office of Information & Technology (VA OI&T) for five years at its inception as the Associate Director of the Philadelphia Information Technology Center. Ms. Simoneau is from Lewiston, Maine and attended Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, VA including a year abroad at the University of Reading, England. She has a Masters of Public Administration from Florida Atlantic University. She completed the Harvard Senior Executive Fellows Program in 2018. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a graduate of Leadership VA 2006. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, needlework, walking, and exploring new places. She travels to Maine as often as possible to recharge.


Adam Bernal, Acting Assistant Director

Adam Bernal | 210-617-5140

Acting Assistant Director

Adam Bernal is currently the Acting Assistant Director at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS). In this capacity, he is charged with the overall management responsibility for Engineering Service, Environmental Management Service, Police Service, Safety Service, and Office of Information & Technology. Mr. Bernal began his VA career in June 2011 in Engineering Service as the Chief, Engineer overseeing 170 employees supporting STVHCS’s facility operations in Engineering Operations and Readiness, Transportation, Biomedical Engineering, Construction and Design, Activations and Relocations, Boiler-Chiller Plant Operations, as well as grounds and landscape management. In 2008, Mr. Bernal received a Bachelor of Science, Construction Engineering, from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. Mr. Bernal served in the United States Air Force as a Structural Specialist, with the 200th Red Horse, Camp Perry, Ohio. He also served with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division while deploying support of Operating Enduring Freedom to Taji, Iraq. In 2012, Mr. Bernal transferred to the Texas Air National Guard serving as a civil engineer and readiness officer. He is a graduate of the Officer Training School from Air University Maxwell Air Force Base. In 2015 and 2019, Mr. Bernal received the Mission Support Group Company Grade Officer of the Year. In 2017, he received the 149th Fighter Wing Company Grade Officer of the Year. Mr. Bernal is a member of the Construction Management Associate of America and Association of Facilities Engineering.


Valerie Rodriguez-Yu, Associate Director for Patient Care Services (Nurse Executive)

Valerie Rodriguez-Yu | 210-617-5300

Associate Director for Patient Care Services (Nurse Executive)

Ms. Rodriguez-Yu is the Associate Director for Patient Care Services and Nurse Executive of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS). She began her VA career in 2003 as a Registered Nurse at the VA San Diego Healthcare System in San Diego, California. As a military spouse and through travels across the nation, Ms. Rodriguez-Yu progressively served in numerous roles in the specialty area of rehabilitation nursing. In 2010, she was selected as the Associate Chief Nurse for Polytrauma/Spinal Cord at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System in San Antonio, Texas. In her role, she was responsible for all nursing staff and activities within the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center, Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program, Polytrauma Network Site, and Spinal Cord Injury Center which included a 30 bed inpatient unit, outpatient clinic, telehealth program and home health program. Prior to becoming the Associate Director for Patient Care Services, she served as the Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Deputy Nurse Executive serving as the Chief of Nursing Services with over 1,300 full-time employees on two geographically separate campuses. Ms. Rodriguez-Yu earned her BSN from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She furthered her education by earning her MSN at the University of Phoenix in 2008. As part of her professional progression, Ms. Rodriguez-Yu earned several certifications that are accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Association (ANCC): 2006 Certified Rehabilitation Registered Nurse, 2007 Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse, and 2014 Nurse Executive-Advanced certification.


Calvin T Leuschen, M.D., Deputy Chief of Staff

Calvin T Leuschen, M.D. | 210-617-5177

Deputy Chief of Staff

Dr. Cal Leuschen received his Medical Degree from the University of Nebraska in 1993. He also holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry. He served in the U.S. Navy until 1999. He completed a residency in Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) in 2003. He worked as an Assistant Professor of Radiology at UTHSCSA from 2003-2008, specializing in Thoracic Imaging. In 2008 he accepted the position of Chief of Imaging Service for South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS). In 2012 he was selected as the Deputy Chief of Staff for STVHCS.


Yolanda Ruiz-Isales, Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services

Yolanda Ruiz-Isales | 210-617-5300 Ext. 14841

Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services

Ms. Ruiz-Isales is the Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services and Deputy Nurse Executive (DADPCS/DNE) of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS). She served in the United States Army Nurse Corps for 27 years and is a retired Colonel. She began her VA career in 2012 as a Nurse Manager in the Surgical and Specialty Clinics providing support in the following specialties: General Surgery, Plastic Surgery, Urology, Vascular, Cardiothoracic, Neurosurgery, Gynecology, Gastroenterology (Endoscopy/Recovery), Pain Clinic, Bariatric, Dental/Oromaxillofacial Surgery, Orthopedics, Otolaryngology, Podiatry and Would Ostomy. Prior to becoming the Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services, she served as Chief Nurse for Primary Care and Specialty Care Clinics from 2016 to 2018 providing managerial oversight for six outpatient clinics and seven community based outpatient clinics. In 2017, she served as the Acting Chief Nurse for Community Living Center at the Kerrville Campus. In this capacity, she provided managerial oversight to the inpatient units, long term, dementia, short term, skilled nursing, and rehabilitative care. In 2018, Ms. Ruiz-Isales was selected as Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Deputy Nurse Executive. In this capacity, she serves as the Chief of Nursing Services with over 1,300 full-time employees on two geographically separate campuses. Ms. Ruiz-Isales earned her BSN from the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan. She furthered her education by earning her MSN from Louisiana State University in New Orleans and Master of Science, National Resource Strategy at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. She is a certified lean six sigma black belt.


Trisha M. Lodde, Chief Experience Officer

Trisha M. Lodde | 210-617-5140

Chief Experience Officer

Trisha Lodde was appointed the Assistant Director / Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) in May 2019. In this capacity, she is responsible for the patient and employee experience at STVHCS and oversight of Voluntary Service, Chaplain Service, Nutrition and Food Service, Recreation Therapy Service. Ms. Lodde began her VA career in September 1996 at STVHCS in Surgical Service as a Health Technician in the Ear, Nose, and Throat Clinic. She held several positions in Medical Administration Service prior to joining the Office of the Director as a Patient Advocate in 2007. Ms. Lodde progressively served in numerous roles in the Director’s Office prior to becoming the Executive Assistant to the Director. In 2014, Ms. Lodde was selected for the role of Assistant Director for Operations overseeing Engineering Service, Environmental Management Service, Police Service, Planning Performance and Development Service, Safety Service, and Voluntary Service prior to becoming the Chief Experience Officer. Ms. Lodde is a graduate of the VISN 17 Leadership Development Institute (LDI) Program and serves as certified mentor to various VISN 17 and STVHCS LEAD candidates. She serves on the national advisory board for Health Care Leadership Development Program and was recently named to the American College of Healthcare Executives Regent’s Advisory Council. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Ms. Lodde holds a Bachelor of Science of Biology from University of Texas at San Antonio and Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science at Houston.