Up & Comers - 2013
Director, VA Butler (PA.) Healthcare
In the old days, injured veterans returning from combat in World War II thought nothing of staying three or four men to a hospital room when they arrived stateside to begin post-war life.
The men and women coming home from armed conflicts today often have much different war injuries than were seen generations ago, and far different expectations for what quality healthcare care looks like—starting with elimination of those multiple-occupancy rooms. That has led the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department on a long campaign to modernize the facilities of the one of world's largest healthcare systems, and executives like John Gennaro are leading the way.
Gennaro, 35, a Parma, Ohio native, has seen plenty of opportunities to reshape VA operations during his 16 years at the national healthcare system for veterans and their families. But it's been complex construction projects that have put Gennaro's leadership and communication skills on display.
In his current job as director of the VA Butler Healthcare system north of Pittsburgh, he's overseen the opening of a new nursing home and a modernized residential facility for homeless, drug-addicted and mentally ill veterans known in the military system as a “domiciliary.” Rather than raze the old domiciliary on the Butler campus, the VA let a local housing authority rehab it as residential shelter.
For his accomplishments, Gennaro won a place in Modern Healthcare's 2013 class of Up and Comers.
“That is the kind of community engagement where you are not only helping lead the VA, but you are helping the community,” says Michael Moreland, network director of the 10 VA medical centers in the Eastern and Midwestern states known as Veterans Integrated Service Network 4. “That has been done while running an outpatient clinical organization that does a couple hundred thousand outpatient visits a year.”
VA Butler, located in veteran-rich Pennsylvania, handles 170,000 outpatient visits per year in its clinics and 18,000 inpatients—a task that Gennaro doesn't take lightly.
“I can't think of a better mission than to care for those who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms,” he says. “We are not focused on profits or anything else. We are focused on outcomes and the quality of the care for the veterans we serve.”
Before moving to Butler in February 2012, Gennaro was deputy director of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, a three-campus system that serves 60,000 veterans. One of Gennaro's primary jobs was to oversee the consolidation of clinical and administrative areas into two campuses, and constructing new facilities—a $300 million project in all.
The project involved closing a million square feet of space and squeezing the displaced functions into an area half that size, which required coordinating with the officials in Washington providing the money and the engineers and staff dealing with the changes on the ground.
“Because of the organization and efficiency of it, you could make it work. And it has worked out well,” Moreland says.