Charles George VA Medical Center gets new chief of staff

Photo of Dr. James Wells courtesy of the Charles George VA Medical Center.

From the press release:

Asheville, N.C. – Dr. James Wells was recently announced as the new chief of staff for the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C.

The chief of staff has direct responsibility for all clinical and patient care activities at the Medical Center and two community based outpatient clinics located in Franklin and Rutherfordton. “My immediate priority will be to understand the needs of local Veterans. To do that I will be walking around the facility and talking with as many people as I can.” One of his biggest challenges he said will be to get familiar with the “levels of complexity that come with the cardiac surgery, cardiac catheterization and rural health” operations that are such a big part of the Charles George facility.”

Dr. Wells is familiar with complex problems. He has 30 years of medical practice experience and has been widely published in specialty medical publications and technical reports. Before coming to the Charles George VAMC he was the chief of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service and acting chief medical officer, Polytrauma System of Care at the Audie L. Murphy VA Medical Center in San Antonio.

Doctor Wells has ties to the Asheville area. He considers Johnson City, Tenn., to be his hometown. He went to college at East Tennessee State University, and has been a member of the medical faculty at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine; Greenville, N.C. Wells also has a daughter attending the University of North Carolina – Asheville.

Before he was a doctor, Wells was an enlisted man in the U.S. Army where he served for six-and-a-half years in the infantry and artillery. At the end of that time period he said that he qualified for an officer’s commission through a program the Army called “green to gold.” The Army sent him college and then medical school. He served for 20 years before retiring in 2002.

Medical Center Director Cynthia Breyfogle said that Dr. Wells has been widely published in specialty medical publications and technical reports and that he has extensive leadership experience in private healthcare organizations, academia and at four different Veterans Health Administration facilities. His experience is enhanced by academic appointments. Besides the Brody School of Medicine he also worked in the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Some of Dr. Wells’ professional interests include medical system operations, public health, occupational medicine, traumatic brain injuries, and emerging infectious diseases. He was asked what he thought about Asheville after his first few days in town. Dr. Wells said that “this is a great community, with great scenery and great weather. If I don’t go anywhere else, I’ll be happy.”

Dr. Wells is succeeding Dr. Keith Kohatsu who served as the interim chief of staff since May. Dr. Kohatsu has returned to his position as chief of the Imaging Service.


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