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Petzel Sworn in to Head Veterans Health Care System
Date:2/18/2010

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Robert A. Petzel has taken the oath of office as the Under Secretary for Health within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), stepping up to lead the nation's largest integrated health care system.

"Dr. Petzel brings to this position a strong leadership background in caring for Veterans as a longtime health system manager in VA," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "His commitment to outstanding medical quality and access for Veterans will be critical to leading VA in its 21st century transformation."

Petzel had been Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health since May 2009.  Previously, he directed one of VA's 21 geographic health care networks covering eight medical centers and 42 community based outpatient clinics serving Veterans in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, western Illinois and western Wisconsin.

During his decades of service to Veterans in VA, he has served on numerous advisory committees that guided development of new and improved health care programs.  Board certified in internal medicine, Petzel also has served previously as chief of staff for the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

He graduated from Northwestern University Medical School in 1969 and has served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota Medical School.

More than 8 million Veterans are enrolled in VA's health care system, which is growing in the wake of its eligibility expansion.  This year, VA expects to treat nearly 6 million patients during 78 million outpatient visits and 906,000 inpatient admissions.

The Veterans Health Administration, the 262,000-employee component of VA that Petzel now heads, is comprised of 153 hospitals nationwide, more than 800 geographically separate outpatient clinics or mobile clinics, and 232 readjustment counseling Vet Centers.

VA offers a comprehensive spectrum of care for Veterans from preventive services and primary care to high-tech subspecialty medicine and hospice programs.  Backed by a world-class electronic health records system, care is delivered in settings as diverse as telehealth monitoring of vital signs from a rural Veteran's home to a network of 134 VA community living centers for nursing home care for Veterans in their later years.

Enhanced programs for today's generation of combat Veterans include "seamless transition" initiatives to ensure continuity of care from the battlefield to hometown, special screenings for traumatic brain injury, and an enhanced array of mental health services to meet Veterans' needs as they return to civilian life as well as special attention to the needs of women and rural Veterans.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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