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Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center Interim Director Dave Whitmer speaks to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 people at a town hall meeting in March.

The interim director of the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center is about to wrap up his assignment here and return home to Florida.

Dave Whitmer announced Friday his last day at the Roseburg VA will be Dec. 21. Whitmer came to Roseburg a year ago to replace former director Doug Paxton. His one-year assignment was to help turn around a VA with significant management and morale issues. He oversaw the removal of several top officials at the VA — some of whom had been identified by investigators as the source of a toxic culture at the VA. But he also asked veterans to work toward a better future rather than continually rehashing the mistakes of the past.

“It has been one of the great honors of my career in public service to be the interim director and start a cultural transformation in Roseburg,” he said in an email Monday to The News-Review.

He said really enjoyed his assignment here.

“The staff are outstanding and are dedicated to our mission to honor America’s veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being. I’ve also been impressed with the support of the community and veterans groups,” he said.

Whitmer said Roseburg is a beautiful area and he’s enjoyed hiking and fishing here.

“I had never been to Oregon prior to my assignment, but I’ll be back for vacation,” he said.

Whitmer said he will return to his former position as the chief operating officer for the VA’s Sunshine Health Network, also known as VISN 8, which oversees facilities in South Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico. He said he’d like to finish the remainder of his public health career as a medical center director on the East Coast, hopefully in Florida.

A permanent director has been chosen to replace Whitmer at the Roseburg VA and is expected to start in early 2019. Whitmer said he’s not able to release the man’s name, but did say that Roseburg was his top choice.

In the short term, another interim director will be selected to bridge the gap between Whitmer’s end date and the new director’s starting date. Whitmer said the next interim director will likely serve a 60-day assignment.

Whitmer is leaving on a high note, with the release last week of a Joint Commission triennial accreditation review that gave the facility high marks for creating a culture of safety for staff and patients.

The VA was found in compliance on 98.1 percent of 3,400 elements considered in the unannounced inspection. Whitmer characterized that as an A+ review, and credited the staff.

“Our team in Roseburg does an outstanding job and the Joint Commission Review confirms the quality of healthcare we provide,” he said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

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