VA director for Ozarks system to retire

Enderle exits in March after 34 years with agency; no replacement named

The head of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care system that serves Northwest Arkansas and parts of Missouri and Oklahoma is retiring next month, a public affairs official confirmed Tuesday.

Dr. Mark Enderle, medical director of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, will retire March 31, system spokesman Sarah McBride said. Enderle oversees more than 1,400 employees and an annual budget of about $286 million.

"I have always considered this hospital to be my home, and seeing us transition from a small hospital to a large health care system serving more than 55,000 veterans has been wonderful to be part of my career," Enderle said in a news release.

Enderle, 61, has held the position since November 2011. He is in charge of all activities at the 73-bed medical center at 1100 College Ave. in Fayetteville, as well as six community-based outpatient clinics in Fort Smith, Harrison and Ozark; Branson and Mount Vernon, Mo.; and Jay, Okla.

He also manages two Vet Centers -- one in Fayetteville and another in Springfield, Mo. -- that help connect veterans with appropriate VA services.

In fiscal 2014, 54,670 veterans in 23 counties were enrolled in the Ozarks system, according to its winter 2015 fact sheet. There was a 1 percent increase in patients from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2014.

The number of female veterans enrolled in the system jumped by 14 percent during those three years.

Until a new director is named, Mark Worley, chief of staff for the system, is "anticipated" to fill in as interim director, the release stated.

The VA began advertising the position Feb. 6, and applications will be accepted until March 9.

According to the job advertisement, the annual salary range is $121,956 to $183,300. The range increases to $145,000 to $265,000 if the applicant is a registered physician.

The announcement of Enderle's retirement comes four months after Dr. Michael Winn stepped down as medical director of the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, which serves 46 counties in central and southern Arkansas.

Winn, who retired in October after 34 years with the VA, said he did so to spend more time with family.

The federal VA has not yet appointed a permanent replacement for Winn, said Debby Meece, executive assistant to the director. Dr. Margie Scott, chief of staff for the system, is acting as interim director.

Like Winn, Enderle's career with the VA has lasted 34 years. He began as a staff physician with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and then transferred to the Ozarks system, where he served as chief of medicine and then chief of staff.

He then became the chief medical officer for the South Central VA Health Care Network, which comprises 16 medical centers and 40 community-based outpatient clinics in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Florida.

His most recent role before serving as medical director in Fayetteville was as senior medical officer with the VA's Office of Quality, Safety and Value in Washington.

NW News on 02/25/2015

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