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Updated Jun 2, 2014 - 8:33 am

Hospital efficiency specialist has advice for Phoenix VA leadership replacement

ASU professor Gene Schneller (Screenshot)

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.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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