Updates from the VA Office of Health Equity

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September 7, 2017

Office of Health Equity Remembers Dr. Robert L. Jesse—A Trailblazer for Health Equity

VA Staff at HEI Event

Dr. Uchenna S. Uchendu, Chief Health Equity Officer for the Veterans Health Administration (left); Dr. Robert L. Jesse, former Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, VHA (center); and Shane Snowdon, Director of Health and Aging Program at Human Rights Campaign (HRC; right) gather at the 2013 HRC Press Conference with Department of Veterans Affairs on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Healthcare Equality Index.

Dr. Robert L. Jesse

VA Office of Health Equity (OHE) staff are saddened to learn of the passing of Robert L. Jesse, M.D., Ph.D., who died on Saturday, September 2, 2017. We remember Dr. Jesse as a trailblazer for health equity.

As Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health (PDUSH), Dr. Jesse ensured that Veteran health equity issues, and the resources to address them, were a priority at the VHA. It was through his leadership and continued dedication to making sure that all Veterans receive optimal care that he created OHE in 2012. Dr. Jesse initiated measures at the VHA to make health equity a strategic priority by directly aligning OHE to the Office of the PDUSH and making the role of the OHE Chief Officer a part of VHA’s senior executive team.

Dr. Jesse was truly visionary. He understood health equity to be a journey. In 2014, Dr. Jesse wrote the foreword for the record-breaking American Journal of Public Health Supplement on Veteran Health Equity. In his foreword,“Advancing the Elimination of Health Disparities in Veterans Through Quality, Access, and Equity,” he outlined some of the ways that VHA was beginning to advance equity issues. Appropriately, Dr. Jesse closes his piece with sentiments for moving forward to address equity:

… these lessons and those learned along the way will continue to guide us in our obligation and duty to serve veterans and provide them bias-free health care.

Listen to Dr. Jesse discuss unconscious bias in the VHA Providers Explore Unconscious Bias video series created by the OHE.


Dr. Jesse video image

Hear Dr. Jesse

As staff, we remain committed to this vision of equitable care for our nation’s heroes and for continually improving the VA to best serve all Veterans as Dr. Jesse demonstrated throughout his career.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Robert L. Jesse, M.D., Ph.D.

More information on funeral arrangements for Dr. Jesse are available here.

More Ways to View the National Veteran Health Equity Report on Your Mobile Device

NVHER on computer and mobile devices

You can now download the National Veteran Health Equity Report (NVHER) to your favorite device or tablet. The VA Office of Health Equity has converted the NVHER into an e-publication (ePUB) to make viewing even more convenient. The current version has been optimized for viewing on the Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and viewing in the iBooks App. Please click here to learn about other devices that support the file. The full report can still be downloaded as a PDF to your computer and other PDF-friendly devices.

The NVHER details patterns and provides comparative rates of health conditions for vulnerable Veteran groups. It is designed to provide basic comparative information on the sociodemographics, utilization patterns and rates of diagnosed health conditions among vulnerable Veterans in the VA. The report allows the VA, Veterans, and stakeholders to monitor the care vulnerable Veterans receive and set goals for improving their care.

Download NVHER

Register for September 2017’s Focus on Health Equity and Action: Promoting Health Equity with the Virtual Medical Center

VA Virtual Medical Center

Join the VA Office of Health Equity for September’s Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar session. The session includes the use of the VA Virtual Medical Center to promote health equity for Veterans. Presenters will focus on the use of flipped classroom methodologies to transform traditional training approaches and how virtual training modalities can advance Veteran selfcare and health promotion for achieving health equity.

Promoting Health Equity with the Virtual Medical Center

Thursday, September 28, 2017
3:00 – 4:00pm EST


Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how flipped classroom methodologies can transform traditional training approaches in VA for staff and Veterans;

  2. Learn how to advance Veteran self-care and health promotion using a 3D virtual environment; and

  3. Increase awareness of VA examples of these approaches to tackle areas of disparities among Veterans.

Confirmed Speakers

  • Rosalyn P. Scott, MD
    Regional Director Specialty Care Center of Innovation (WEST), Long Beach VA Medical Center

  • Uchenna S. Uchendu, MD
    Chief Officer, Office of Health Equity, VA Central Office, Washington, DC

Background Resources

  • VA Virtual Medical Center. Available online at https://vavmc.com/.

  • Scott RP, Uchendu US, Dominquez M. Spectrum of Virtual Patient-Based Decision-Making Simulations Implemented in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) Annual Conference, Helsinki, Finland, August 26-30, 2017. Available online - see page 306.

  • McLaughlin JE, Roth MT, Glatt DM, Gharkholonarehe N, Davidson CA, Griffin LM, et al. (2014). The Flipped Classroom: A Course Redesign to Foster Learning and Engagement in a Health Professions School. Academic Medicine, 89(2), 236-243. Available online.

Intended Audiences

Researchers, clinicians, care coordinators, policy makers, educators, Veteran stakeholders and representatives of vulnerable Veteran groups who are interested in understanding and/or promoting equitable health among all Veterans.