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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Leadership Team

Portrait of Christopher R. Sandles, MBA, FACHE

Christopher R. Sandles, MBA, FACHE | 713-794-7531

Interim Medical Center Director

Christopher R. Sandles, was appointed Interim Director of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in May 2016. Mr. Sandles serves as MEDVAMC’s CEO charged with management of one of the most complex VA medical centers in the country with more than 4,600 employees and an annual budget of approximately $912 million. In addition to caring for more than 109,000 Veterans in southeast Texas, the MEDVAMC also serves as a regional and national referral center for many services including cardiac surgery, liver transplant, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, radiation therapy, and spinal cord injury.

Mr. Sandles’ years of VA service include positions as the Associate Director of the MEDVAMC, Assistant Director of 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. Mr. Sandles received both his Bachelor's degree in Business and his Masters of Healthcare Administration from Texas Tech University, where he served as President of the Forum Chapter of Mortar Board, and was a sitting member of national council.

Mr. Sandles also holds a green belt certification in six-sigma from Villanova University and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Portrait of Karandeep Sraon, MBBS, MBA, FACHE

Karandeep Sraon, MBBS, MBA, FACHE | 713-794-8923

Deputy Medical Center Director

Karandeep Sraon was appointed Deputy Director of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in May 2016. Mr. Sraon, who is also known as Kenny, has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) since 2004 and has a track record of progressive professional development and career growth spanning field management experience, operations support, and program management.

At MEDVAMC, Mr. Sraon is responsible for administrative operations, including: Facilities Management, Nutrition and Food Service, Environmental Management, Communications, Privacy, Emergency Preparedness, Police, and Compliance and Business Integrity.

Prior to his appointment in Houston, Mr. Sraon was the Assistant Director of the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital just outside of Chicago, Illinois, where he was responsible for resources and operations for over 600 staff with a personnel services budget of $37.2 million. Throughout his career he has embraced leadership opportunities outside of his assigned roles. He has previously served as the Acting Associate Director of Hines VA Hospital as well as the Acting Assistant Director at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

In addition to his field based experience, he has gained operational knowledge at the higher levels of the DVA. In VA Great Lakes Health Care Network he served as the Business Implementation Manager and in VA Central Office in Washington, DC he was a Health Systems Specialist in the VHA Office of the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management.

Mr. Sraon graduated with a medical degree from Dayanand Medical College in Ludhiana, Punjab, India and is a non-practicing physician who transitioned to a career in healthcare administration by earning a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Business. Mr. Sraon is a board certified healthcare executive and fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Portrait of J. Kalavar, M.D.

J. Kalavar, M.D. | (713) 794-7011

Chief of Staff

Dr. Kalavar was appointed chief of staff of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) in March 2009. Dr. Kalavar serves as the MEDVAMC's senior medical officer responsible for all clinical programs at the medical facility in Houston and its Community-Based Outpatient Clinics.

Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Kalavar received his medical degree from Madras University in Madras, India in 1979. He completed his internship and post graduate training in India and performed his residency at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Dr. Kalavar is an associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and a member of the American College of Physicians.

Dr. Kalavar started his VA career as a staff physician in 1991 at Colmery O'Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka, Kansas. He was appointed director of Primary Care Service Line in 1998 and selected as director of the Primary Care Service Line for Eastern Kansas Health Care System in 2000. He joined MEDVAMC in 2001 as the Primary Care Director and served as Chief of General Medicine from 2006 to 2009. In this capacity, he was responsible for one of the largest primary care programs within the VA health care system.

As the Director of the MEDVAMC Patient Reception Team (PRT), Dr. Kalavar coordinated the movement of supplies, equipment, and personnel to Ellington Field in 2005 to respond to Hurricane Katrina. The PRT medically triaged almost 800 patients from 21 flights in the next five days. The patients, ranging from four-months old to the elderly, suffered from dehydration, fatigue, and a variety of medical conditions. In two weeks, the MEDVAMC admitted more than 100 patients from the hurricane-affected areas.

Dr. Kalavar is the recipient of the Houston Federal Executive Board 2006 Excellence in Government Award and was recognized in 2011 as a Patriotic Employer by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

Portrait of Kelly A Irving

Kelly A Irving | 713-794-7475

Associate Director Patient Care Services

Kelly Irving, MSN, RN, is the MEDVAMC Associate Director, Patient Care Services (ADPCS). Ms. Irving has more than 20 years of nursing experience, including 17 years in important nursing leadership positions. As ADPCS, she serves as a key member of the medical center senior management team; providing leadership and expert knowledge for the VA's state-of-the-art medical facility and nine community based outpatient clinics in southeast Texas.

Ms. Irving has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs since March 2005 and has been at MEDVAMC since 2009. She has served as a Skin Risk Nurse Manager, Associate Chief Nurse of Operations and most recently as the Deputy Associate Director for Patient Care Services.

"I am looking forward to continuing to work with the dedicated professionals at the Houston VA and to the challenge of taking on this new position," Irving said. "I am proud of the top quality patient care that is provided to Veterans every day at this Medical Center."

Irving is also especially proud of MEDVAMC's second redesignation of Magnet Recognition for Excellence in Nursing Services that was awarded in February of this year. "I am continually amazed at what the staff here at this Medical Center can accomplish when we put our minds to it," she said. "We are the first VA in the system to receive a second redesignation of magnet status. That is something of which we can all be extremely proud."

Ms. Irving received her BSN from Our Lady of Holy Cross College in May of 1993 and then received a MSN from the University of Phoenix in September of 1998. Additionally, she received an Enterostomal Therapy Certificate from the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1997. Ms. Irving is also a graduate of VISN 16 Leadership Development Institute (LDI) and Advanced LDI.

Portrait of James Scheurich, M.D.

James Scheurich, M.D. | 713-794-7436

Medical Center Deputy Chief of Staff

Dr. Scheurich was appointed deputy chief of staff of the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center on July 2, 2000. In this capacity, he serves as a senior clinician in this tertiary care medical center. Dr. Scheurich is also an assistant professor of medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr. Scheurich is a graduate of the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas (M.D., 1979), a member of the American College of Physicians (1987), and a member of the Society of General Internal Medicine (1987). He obtained clinical and research training in internal medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Dr. Scheurich is board certified in internal medicine.

Dr. Scheurich served as special assistant to the chief of staff for quality management at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, and then became associate chief of staff for quality management at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.

He serves as Telecare medical director and chairperson for numerous clinical committees at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. Dr. Scheurich is a member of the Internal Medicine Level I Residency Selection Committee at Baylor College of Medicine. He is a faculty member of Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication and a certified trainer. Dr. Scheurich is the author or co-author of several articles in peer reviewed journals.

Dr. Scheurich received the VISN #16 Clinical Excellence in Business Practice Award on August 11, 2004. This award, presented annually, recognizes clinicians in the Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) #16 for special or consistent efforts to generate revenues or to help save costs in the provision of health care to Veterans while maintaining quality service. He also received the Director's Award for Professional Leadership in 1992.

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Sean M. Ryan | 713-794-7531

Acting Associate Director

Sean M. Ryan was appointed Acting Associate Director in June 2016. Mr. Ryan serves as MEDVAMC's Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for Finance, Human Resources, Business Office, Logistics, Pharmacy, Nutrition, Health Information Management, Telecare and Clinical Application Coordinators. Mr. Ryan has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs since June 2005, and has served as the Supervisory Health Systems Specialist and Administrative Executive to the Chief of Staff at the MEDVAMC, directly supporting all Medical Center Director & Chief of Staff initiatives to include relieving them of administrative matters as it relates to patient care, medical education, and academic research.

Mr. Ryan obtained a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Administration and Policy at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He also obtained his Masters in Health Administration from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Ryan is certified as a VA Mentorship Fellow, is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, has received the Secretary’s Hero Award for his efforts during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.