A podium displays the Department of Veteran Affairs logo. | Via Ed Schipul/Flickr

New leader of St. Louis VA tries to stabilize embattled health care agency



Keith Repko | Courtesy of VA St. Louis Health Care System

After the search for a new leader of the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System dragged on for more than three years, Keith Repko is settling into his role as top executive of the health care system. Repko is tasked with addressing a variety of issues troubling the system, where he oversees a $440 million budget and 3,000 employees.

Repko, 52, started working for the VA in the 1980s in North Dakota, when he was a biomedical engineering student. He transferred to St. Louis in 1991, rose to chief engineer, eventually deputy director a few years ago. He was last in a string of eight interim directors before being hired for the position starting Oct. 1.

According to internal analysis of the national VA system in the third quarter of 2016, St. Louis ranked in the bottom half in several areas of service, including: efficiency, length of stay, employee satisfaction, in-hospital complications and acute care standard mortality ratio. St. Louis ranked among the bottom 10 percent for the likes of catheter associated urinary tract infection and in-patient satisfaction.

Overall, St. Louis has a two-star rating on a five-star scale. Repko says the VA is on track to become a three-star system next quarter. “Obviously, we aren’t happy with being a three star, so we have multiple teams diligently continuing to work toward our next step of becoming a four star,” he said.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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