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Tennessee Valley Healthcare System


Leadership Team

Portrait of Martin J Traxler

Martin J Traxler |

Interim Health System Director

Mr. Traxler was appointed Interim Health System Director for VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System on July 5, 2016. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Traxler served as Medical Center Director of the Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville, KY.

As Medical Center Director, Mr. Traxler is responsible for day-to-day operations of one of VA’s largest Health Systems. Key responsibilities include providing executive leadership, budgetary and operations oversight for both clinical and administrative services.

Traxler served as Director of the Alexandria VA Health Care System in Louisiana from May 2013 until November, 2014. Prior to this, he served as Acting Medical Center Director of the Lexington VA from Feb. to May 2013. Traxler also served as Associate Director of the Lexington VA since Sept. 11, 2011. Mr. Traxler came to Lexington from the Carl Vinson VA in Dublin, GA, where he was the Associate Director since Aug. 2009. Before this, he served as Chief, Acquisition & Materiel Mgt. Svc. at the VA in Asheville, NC.

He joined VA in 1989 through the Federal Outstanding Scholar Program as an Acquisition & Materiel Mgt. Intern at the VA in Lake City, FL. He transferred to the Salt Lake City, Utah VA as a Contracting Officer in 1991. In 1992 he became the Chief, Acquisition Mgt. at the VA in Allen Park, MI, where he worked with a team to activate the Detroit VA. He transferred to the Muskogee, OK. VA in 1996 as the Asst. Chief, Acquisition & Materiel Mgt. SVC. until appointed as Chief, Acquisition & Materiel Mgt. in Bay Pines.

He earned his MBA at Northeastern State University of OK in 2000. He earned a Bachelor in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Economics from Tiffin University in OH in 1989. He completed the VHA Health Care Leadership Institute in 2005. He has been an adjunct instructor teaching Health Care Economics to students seeking a BA in Science of Nursing. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 198

Portrait of Suzanne L. Jené, MBA, VHA-CM

Suzanne L. Jené, MBA, VHA-CM | 615-225-2530

Deputy Health System Director

Suzanne Jené was appointed Deputy Health System Director for the Department of Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (VA TVHS) in July 2014, after serving as Chief Operating Officer since July 2012. Jené’s most recent assignment was as the TVHS Interim Health System Director from November 2015 to July 2016 where she was responsible for the oversight of one of the VA’s largest Health Systems.

Ms. Jené previously served as the Associate Director at the Huntington VAMC in West Virginia where she was responsible for overseeing the administration of budgets and the business office, human resources management, capital assets planning, and building and plant management. She also had direct programs responsibility in the areas of education, safety, security, sanitation, and labor-management.

Ms. Jené began her VA career in 1989 as a contract specialist trainee at the VA Medical Center in Bay Pines, Fla. Over the years, she progressively advanced in her career working in various facilities in California, Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

A native of Pittsburgh, Ms. Jené earned a Bachelor's degree in Health Services/Business Administration from Point Park University, and a Master's in Business Administration/Health Services from DeVry University. She is a graduate of the Healthcare Leadership Institute (HCLI) and VHA's Executive Career Field Development course. She is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).

Portrait of Ronnie Smith, MSHA, MBA

Ronnie Smith, MSHA, MBA | 615-873-6972

Associate Director

Ronnie Smith was appointed as Associate Director of the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System on June 26, 2016. Smith had served as Acting Associate Director since January 24, 2016.

Prior to this assignment, Smith served as Assistant Director of the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (VA TVHS) since November 16, 2014.

Prior to joining Tennessee Valley, Smith served as the Health Systems Specialist to the Deputy Medical Center Director at the Portland VA Medical Center. At the facility, awarded in 2013 with the Robert W. Carey Award for Excellence, Smith helped oversee the following services: Business Office, Finance, Facilities Management, Environmental Management, Quality and Performance, Human Resources, Voluntary Services, Logistics, Health Information Systems, and Purchased Care. Smith helped improve care to Veterans by implementing multiple Indian and Tribal Health sharing agreements, developing the Veterans Transportation Program in partnership with the Oregon Department of Transportation, expanding radiological services within the medical center, and serving as the facility point of contact for the Affordable Care Act and Veterans Equitable Resource Allocation (VERA). During his five years in Portland, Smith also served in roles as Acting Deputy Medical Center Director and Acting Assistant Director.

Prior to transferring to Portland, Mr. Smith served at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia in roles as a Budget Analyst, Business Manager/Project Manager, and Staff Assistant to the Director and Assistant Director.

Mr. Smith earned a Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Management from the University of Alabama and Masters Degrees in Business Administration and Health Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is a graduate of the VA Graduate Healthcare Administrative Training Program and became a certified trainer in Prevention and Management of Disruptive Behavior.

Portrait of Dr. James D. Wells, M.D., MPH

Dr. James D. Wells, M.D., MPH | 615-873-6969

Acting Chief of Staff

Dr. James D. Wells, was appointed as the TVHS Acting Chief of Staff July 18, 2016. Dr. Wells is currently the South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) Acting Chief of Staff.

Dr. Wells received his undergraduate and Medical Degrees from East Tennessee State University. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a Master of Public Health (Epidemiology) at the University of Washington, a second residency in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine at Madigan Army Medical Center, and was an Army Flight Surgeon. He is board certified with the American Board of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, American Board of Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Diplomate, American Academy of Pain Management.

In 2014, he accepted the position of Chief, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center. Prior to this appointment, he served as Chief of Staff at Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

Prior to his medical career he was enlisted Infantryman and then an NCO in the Field Artillery. He is retired from the United States Army. He has held positions of progressive responsibility in the Army, in academia and in the Veterans Health Administration.

Portrait of Cynthia L. Johnson, RN, MSHCA, NEA-BC

Cynthia L. Johnson, RN, MSHCA, NEA-BC | (615) 873-6943

Associate Director for Patient Care Services

Prior to joining Tennessee Valley Health Care System as the Associate Director of Patient Care Services, Cynthia L. Johnson served as VISN 9 Quality Management Officer (QMO). As QMO, Ms. Johnson was responsible for providing oversight of all aspects of Quality Management, Process Improvement/Redesign, Performance Management, Patient Safety, Compliance Business Integrity, Ethics, Financial Quality Management, Utilization Management, Accreditation Readiness, Risk Management, and Nursing Liaison across VISN 9 facilities.

Before joining VISN 9, Ms. Johnson served as the Chief of Quality and Performance Management at VA Northern California Healthcare System. Previously, Ms. Johnson served at James A Haley VAMC and Orlando VAMC as the Associate Chief Nurse for Ambulatory Care and Surgery. Ms. Johnson began her VA career at the Lexington VAMC where she served in roles such as Patient Safety Manager and Extended Care Coordinator. Prior to joining the VA, Ms. Johnson worked as a Director of Nursing for Life Care Centers of America.

Ms. Johnson received a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from University of Kentucky, holds a Master’s of Science in Health Care Administration from Bellevue University and is Board Certified as Nurse Executive, Advanced by ANCC. She completed the VHA ECF/HCLI training program in 2009 and Federal Nurse Executive Institute in 2007.

Portrait of Gary McCarthy

Gary McCarthy | 615-225-4900

Acting Assistant Director

Mr. Gary McCarthy was appointed Acting Assistant Director, TVHS from August 7, 2016, to October 29, 2016.

Mr. McCarthy was appointed as the Chief, Environmental Management Service of the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in 2014. As the Chief, Environmental Management Service, he is responsible for planning, direction, and management of a complex multi-site program designed to provide a sanitary and esthetically pleasing environment for our Veterans and staff.

Prior to joining Tennessee Valley, McCarthy served as the Assistant Chief, Environmental Management Service at the VA Boston Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts. He began his VA career as a Civil Engineering Technician at the VA Boston Healthcare System in Boston, Massachusetts.

McCarthy earned his Bachelor’s Degrees in Facilities Planning and Management and Architectural Engineering from the Wentworth Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the VA, McCarthy served as the Facilities Manager for Terra Lycos and Director of Design Services for Affordable Interior Systems.

He is a facilitator with the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE) and a certified mentor for the VA.