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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Kalavar Selected as DeBakey VA Chief of Staff

March 6, 2009

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Jay Kalavar, M.D. (left) confers with an Air National Guard nurse and former DeBakey VA Medical Center Director Edgar L. Tucker about the manifest of a C-130 Air National Guard military transport aircraft carrying patients from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. PHOTO BY: MEDVAMC Media Services


HOUSTON – Jagadeesh S. Kalavar, M.D. was recently selected as the new chief of staff of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).  In his new post, Kalavar, who has been with the Department of Veterans Affairs since 1991, will serve as the MEDVAMC’s senior medical officer responsible for all clinical care and programs at the main facility in Houston and outpatient clinics.

Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Kalavar received his medical degree from Madras University in Madras, India in 1979. He completed his internship and post graduate training in India and completed his residency at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Kalavar is also an associate professor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, member of the American College of Physicians, and recipient of Houston Federal Executive Board 2006 Excellence in Government Award.

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

"Dr. Kalavar has clinical and analytical leadership skills that make a very effective and productive bridge between the administration of the hospital and the medical staff,” said Acting Medical Center Director Blase A. Carabello, M.D., F.A.C.C. “He is the perfect candidate to offer leadership that will help improve the way we serve our patients and their families.”

Medical Center Chief Nurse Executive Thelma Gray-Becknell, R.N., M.S.N. agrees. “Not only does Jay have an intimate grasp of the workings of the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, but he understands the importance of collaboration across service lines, and between physicians, nurses, technicians, and support staff,” said Gray-Becknell.

Primary Care clinics at the MEDVAMC are organized into five Primary Care teams based on the concept of "Clinical Microsystems" with emphasis on a system-based approach to patient care.  Primary Care has more than 70,000 patients with 650 patient visits per day and more than 170,000 visits a year. Primary care also includes outpatient clinics in Conroe and Galveston, a Women's Veteran clinic, and Subspecialty clinics. Over the past two years, Primary Care/General Medicine has evolved into a major ambulatory care teaching site for the Baylor College of Medicine Internal Medicine Program, teaching "System Based Practice.” Primary Care physicians have responsibility for inpatients, resident teaching and continuity clinics, and research.

As the director of the MEDVAMC Patient Reception Team, Kalavar coordinated the movement of supplies, equipment, and personnel to Ellington Field in 2005 to respond to Hurricane Katrina. With the first C-130 Air National Guard military transport aircraft arriving at 9 p.m. on August 31, 2005, the MEDVAMC PRT medically triaged almost 800 patients from 21 flights in the next five days. The patients, ranging from a 4-month-old to the very elderly, suffered from dehydration and fatigue. The team saw a variety of medical conditions including recent organ transplants, blood clots, ventilator-dependent patients, obstetric emergencies, heart attacks, emergency dialysis, infections, and strokes. In the next two weeks, the MEDVAMC admitted more than 100 patients from the hurricane-affected areas.

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