March 30 is Doctor’s Day. VA physicians are leading the charge toward greater progress in Veteran care spanning all areas from primary to specialty medicine. With access to state-of-the-art technologies and pioneering research opportunities, they continually challenge the boundaries of health care to develop inventive treatment options that deliver improved patient outcomes.
The Veterans Health Administration has over 26,300 physicians. We would like you to meet just a few of them.
Dr. Cara Smith helps Veteran Iona Trexler insert her scleral lenses to check for fit of the lens
Dr. Cara Smith, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center optometry resident, fits scleral lenses for Veterans, helping to improve their vision and comfort. She holds a full day clinic every Thursday and has helped over 50 Veterans with the lens.
Thanks, PAO Erin Curran
Dr. Michael Simberkoff and Army Veteran Carl Simmons
Navy Veteran Dr. Michael Simberkoff was Executive Chief of Staff at the VA New York Harbor Health System. He retired a few years ago but continues to see patients as a volunteer at his infectious disease clinic at VA Manhattan. He also supervises infectious disease fellows, internal medicine residents, and medical students and he performs clinical research as a volunteer. He hopes to “continue serving Veterans as long as he’s physically and mentally able to do so.”
Thanks, PAO Claudie Benjamin.
Dr.Oladipo Kukoyi, chief of staff at Birmingham VA Medical Center, delivering roses to a patient and his wife during the National Salute to Veteran Patients
A colleague says of Dr. Oladipo Kukovi: “His administrative knowledge of the VA medical system, interpersonal skills, ability to anticipate trends, and compassion toward Veterans make Kukoyi an ideal chief of staff. He is as genuine and committed as any Veteran physician could be.”
Thanks, PAO Jeffrey Hester.
Dr. Jo-Anne Suffoletto
Dr. Jo-Anne Suffoletto is one of those rare VA physicians whose patient load has more women than men, an oddity in a health care system where men outnumber women nearly 20 to 1. “My primary care is unique in that I see 75 percent women and 25 percent men, which is the exact opposite of most providers within VA.” Suffoletto was recently named the co-recipient of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System’s 2018 Outstanding Physician.
Thanks, PAO Shelley Kay Nulph
Dr. Sandra Blakowski
Pittsburgh is also very proud of Dr. Sandra Blakowski who was also recently named VA Pittsburgh’s 2018 Outstanding Physician. She was recognized for her work in establishing two groundbreaking end-of-life programs, No Veteran Dies Alone and the Honors Escort.
Thanks, PAO Shelley Kay Nulph
Dr. Leonie Heyworth
The flood waters took his home, his medication, and nearly his toe. Read how telemedicine allowed Dr. Leonie Heyworth to intervene with a Veteran displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
Dr. Heyworth is the National Director of Synchronous Telehealth, responsible for overseeing the implementation and expansion of video telehealth at VA. She currently practices Primary Care at VA San Diego.
Thanks, PAO Treva Lutes
The very first Doctors’ Day in 1933 consisted of a few doctors’ wives putting together a luncheon for the local physicians in Winder, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta. On October 30, 1990, President George Bush designated March 30th as “National Doctor’s Day.”
Editor’s Note: Take another look at the graphic at the top of this story. The stethoscope forms the letters VA. Well done Luis H. Loza Gutierrez!