Leadership Team - VA Palo Alto Health Care System
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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


Leadership Team

Thomas J. Fitzgerald III, CHESP, Director

Thomas J. Fitzgerald III, CHESP | 650-493-5000


Thomas J, Fitzgerald III was appointed Director at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in June 2017. He previously served as Deputy Director from January 2013–June 2017. He oversees one of the most complex facilities in the VA system with an annual budget in excess of $1.1 billion, more than 7,000 staff and volunteers, 808 operating beds spread between three inpatient divisions and 7 community outpatient clinics and a myriad of special programs. He also is responsible for maintaining a cooperative and supportive relationship with affiliate Stanford University School of Medicine, numerous academic affiliations in allied health programs and other community health institutions. Mr. Fitzgerald is a Service Connected Disabled Veteran who served in the U.S Army active and reserve for 16 years as a Medical Non Commissioned Officer and served in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Mr. Fitzgerald began his VA Career in 1988 as a Nursing Assistant at the North Chicago VAMC and held the following positions at the North Chicago VAMC, Housekeeping Aid, Housekeeping Assistant General Foreman, Assistant Chief Environmental Care and Operations and Chief Environmental Care and Operations, Chief Environmental Management Service at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Assistant Director for VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Mr. Fitzgerald holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management from the American InterContinental University, he is also a graduate of the VA management development course (VAMD) in conjunction with the University of Alabama Birmingham, the Leadership VA (LVA) 2003 class and HCLI 2007 class. He is a Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional (CHESP) by the American Hospital Association affiliate, Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE). He is also a member of the American College of Health Care Executives.

Daniel Kulenich, Deputy Director

Daniel Kulenich | 650-493-5000 Ext. 65404

Deputy Director

Mr. Kulenich graduated from Robert Morris University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Logistics. He earned a Master of Science degree in Project Management from DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management. Mr. Kulenich has served as the Director for Clinical Support at VAPAHCS since 2016. More recently, Mr. Kulenich has served as the Acting Associate Director in 2017 and Acting Deputy Director in 2018 at VAPAHCS. In addition to his wealth of experience in systems-based practice and a field base in clinical work, he is also a Veteran of the United States Army.

Jay J. Kim, P.E, CSP, Interim Associate Director

Jay J. Kim, P.E, CSP | 650-493-5000

Interim Associate Director

Jay Kim was appointed as the Interim Associate Director at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) on March 22, 2020. As a member of the executive leadership team, Mr. Kim participates in management discussions, decisions, and policy making for the health care system. His duties include oversight of Chaplain, Environmental Management, Nutrition & Food, Patient Advocate, Prosthetics & Sensory Aids, Safety & Emergency Management, and Voluntary & Hospitality Management. He is the executive liaison for Information Security, Office of Information & Technology, and Veterans Canteen Service. Mr. Kim began his VA career in 2012 at VAPAHCS as the Green Environmental Management System Program Manager and subsequently served as Associate Chief of Engineering Service, Chief of Safety and Emergency Management Service, and Chief of Engineering Service. In 2017, Mr. Kim won VHA Shark Tank Competition and was named Gold Status Fellow by the VA Under Secretary for Health for developing Construction Safety Reporting Tool for all VA facilities. Mr. Kim received his master of science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and bachelor of science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of California, Irvine. He is a licensed Civil Engineer and a Certified Safety Professional.

Rina N. Shah, M.D., F.A.C.P., Interim Chief of Staff

Rina N. Shah, M.D., F.A.C.P. | 650-493-5000

Interim Chief of Staff

Effective, May 3, 2020, Dr. Shah will serve as the Interim Chief of Staff at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS). Dr. Shah was previously appointed as the Deputy Chief of Staff, VAPAHCS, in December 2018. Dr. Shah is responsible for the clinical operations of a complex three-division health care system and seven community-based outpatient clinics. As a leader in VA, she is committed to the management and optimization of clinical care delivery, education, and research. Dr. Shah received her medical degree from Seth GS Medical College & KEM Hospital in Mumbai, India. She also completed her Internship and received a diploma in Medical Radiodiagnosis from KEM Hospital. Dr. Shah completed her Residency in Internal Medicine at Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, and her Chief Residency in Internal Medicine at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Riverside, California. Dr. Shah began her VA career in 1999 at the VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, where she held positions as Staff Physician and Co-Director of the Emergency Department. In 2003, she transferred to San Francisco VA Health Care System and has since served in various leadership roles, including Director of Medical Practice (Primary Care), Associate Chief of Staff of Ambulatory Care, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Interim Chief of Staff. Dr. Shah is currently a Clinical Professor (Affiliated) in the Clinician Educator line in the Department of Medicine and Division of Primary Care and Population Health at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Avantika Nath, B.D.S., Acting Deputy Chief of Staff

Avantika Nath, B.D.S. | 650-493-5000

Acting Deputy Chief of Staff

Effective, May 3, 2020, Dr. Nath will serve as the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS). Dr. Nath received her graduate degree in dentistry from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu, India. She completed her post-doctoral clinical research and her General Practice Residency at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry. She is the former Director for Dental Services at the Department of Public Health, City and County of San Francisco, where she was instrumental in setting up systems to provide oral healthcare to homeless patients and patients with HIV and AIDS. She also served as Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the UCSF School of Dentistry and is currently on faculty at Western University School of Dentistry in Pomona, CA. Dr. Nath began working at the VA in 2012 as the Chief of Dental Service, VAPAHCS. In December 2019, in conjunction with overseeing the Dental Service, Dr. Nath was appointed as the Associate Chief of Staff, Interventional Procedural Services, where she provided oversight of interventional procedure services including interventional radiology, gastrointestinal diagnostics, cardiology, dental, anesthesiology, podiatry and pain clinic procedures.

Michelle R Mountfort, Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

Michelle R Mountfort | 650-493-5000

Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

Michelle Mountfort is the Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS), effective July 5, 2020. Ms. Mountfort joined VAPAHCS in 2016, as the Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Service/Nursing Services. Ms. Mountfort has been with the VA for twelve years. Prior to joining VAPAHCS, she served as the Acting Associate Director for Patient Care Service/Nursing Services at the Grand Junction VA Health Care System, Grand Junction, Colorado. She has been involved in VHA initiatives including Transition to Practice Program Collaborative, VISN wide committees such as Systems Redesign, Quality, Safety and Value and the facility POC for the Patient Aligned Care Team roll-out. She is a graduate of both the VISN 18/19 Leadership Development Institute as well as a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute Program. Additionally, she was inducted into the Honors Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau in 2008.

David R Renfro, Interim Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

David R Renfro | 650-849-1949

Interim Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

Mr. David Renfro is recognized as a Servant Leader who most recently has served as the Chief Nurse for Specialty and Hospital Based Services. In this role he supervised leadership for the Critical Care (2) and Medical Surgical units (3), Emergency Room, Case Management, Nursing Supervisors Office. Project RED, Avasys implementation, Vocera, the Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) program and the newly implemented Clinical Command Center. Mr. Renfro is a U.S. Navy Veteran with a passion for improving the healthcare of Veterans through the use of Evidence Based Practice, LEAN and process improvement strategies. One of Mr. Renfro’s primary efforts at the VA has been the implementation of Project RE-Engineering Discharge (RED) throughout our facility, and providing assistance with RED implementation to more than 13 VAs nationally. He is recognized as a national resource for Project RED and readmissions strategies.