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 of 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: housekeeping aid, housekeeping assistant general foreman, assistant chief environmental care, and operations and chief environmental care and operations, chief Environmental Management Service at VA Palo Alto Health Care System, and assistant director at VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Mr. Fitzgerald holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in health care 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.

Megan O’Connor, Interim Deputy Director

Megan O’Connor | 650-493-5000

Interim Deputy Director

Megan O’Connor was appointed Interim Deputy Director of VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) on January 3, 2021. She was the Interim Associate Director from October 11, 2020 - January 2, 2021. Ms. O’Connor has served as the Director for Clinical Support under the Office of the Chief of Staff since October 2018, where she oversees the operation, coordination, and administrative management of Chief of Staff services. Under her leadership, Ms. O’Connor has supported the Group Practice Management structure, improved call wait times, and first call resolution at VAPAHCS. Previously, Ms. O’Connor served as the Assistant Chief, Ambulatory Care Service, from November 2013 – October 2018. Prior to her administrative work she provided direct patient care as a physical therapist for seven years. Ms. O’Connor obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Studies in 2001, and a Master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2003 from Boston University.

Daniel Kulenich, Associate Director

Daniel Kulenich | 650-493-5000 Ext. 65404

Associate 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 Deputy Director in 2020 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.

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 VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS). Dr. Shah was previously appointed 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 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.

Peter Lee, MD, Interim Deputy Chief of Staff

Peter Lee, MD | 650-493-5000

Interim Deputy Chief of Staff

Effective October 25, 2020, Dr. Lee will serve as the Interim Deputy Chief of Staff at VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS). Dr. Lee has been part of the VAPAHCS team since 2002, serving as Access and PACT Lead in the Palo Alto General Medicine Clinics and as the Deputy Associate Chief of Staff (ACOS) for Ambulatory Care in January 2017. More recently, Dr. Lee was appointed as the ACOS for Connected Care, where he began his responsibilities for expanding and improving telemedicine services, MyHealtheVet, and other methods of connected care available at VAPAHCS. Dr. Lee received his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, School of Medicine. He completed his internal medicine internship and residency, as well as a general internal medicine fellowship at Northwestern University School of Medicine.

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 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 health care of Veterans through the use of evidence-based practice, LEAN, and process improvement strategies. One of Mr. Renfro’s primary efforts at 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.