Dr. Doug Rosendale never gave up his horse ranch when he was called away to Washington, D.C., to become the chief medical information officer for Veterans Affairs more than a decade ago. He knew one day he would return to the Grand Valley.
Three months ago, his premonition became a reality as Rosendale became chief of staff at the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He replaces Dr. Srinivas Ginjupalli in the position.
The chief of staff leads all clinical activities for the coverage area of the Grand Junction Veterans Affairs, which includes western Colorado, southeast Utah and parts of Wyoming.
About three-quarters of the 800-900 medical professionals working at Veterans Affairs report to Rosendale.
He previously worked with the Grand Junction VA as chief of surgery prior to moving to Washington, D.C. to become the chief medical information officer for the VA. He also held the same position for a VA and Department of Defense interagency program.
Later, he led health information technology and disaster preparedness committees at the White House and worked as a health IT consultant for a large professional services network.
It was Rosendale's time as a consultant that he said drew him back to Veterans Affairs.
"I decided I didn't want to sell services, I wanted to implement services. So at this point in my career, I felt it would be better to be in a leadership position at this medical center and try to implement those technologies and make those transformational changes," he said.
He also sees his new position as a way to transform care locally and demonstrate a higher quality of service that can become a nationwide model.
"I think the government's duty is to demonstrate how value-based health care can be exercised, and we can demonstrate that in the VA," he said. "It's part of the reason I came."
Value-based care emphasizes outcomes related to a patient's health and rewards providers for improving overall health of patients.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is stressing value-based care, and Rosendale said the VA is doing its part and working with community partners.
"We can be a model for how all health care should go, and veterans are the reason to do it," he said.
Rosendale pointed to the new Mission Act, which provides veterans with more options to get care in the community, and the strong history of Grand Junction Veterans Affairs serving as a leader among rural VAs as positives as he starts his tenure.
Some challenges he sees include recruiting physicians to come to Grand Junction. He spoke highly of the staff in place, but said the hospital has nearly tripled the amount of patients in the past 25 years and there is a need to bring in more staff.
He also stressed that the VA will continue to make telehealth, transitional care, long-term care and home-based primary care priorities.
Grand Junction VA Director Michael Kilmer said Rosendale's background in both the private and public sectors will be a big asset for the community.
"He will bring tremendous stability and forward thinking," Kilmer said. "He's definitely an innovative guy. It's really nice to have him back."