The director of the Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System is leaving his post after two years.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Thursday that Daniel Hendee has been named director of the VA Medical Center in Wilmington, Del.
Hendee could not be reached for comment. He has worked for VA for nearly 30 years and came to the regional system, based in Fort Wayne and Marion, from the agency’s medical center in Saginaw, Mich., where he was acting director.
It’s a loss for us, Jennifer Baran-Prall, Hendee’s administrative assistant, said about his pending departure. It’s my understanding that this is an opportunity that came up that he thought would be a career-developing opportunity.
She said because the Wilmington center is a teaching hospital, Hendee will be able to develop and mentor doctors.
Baran-Prall said Hendee has family in the Wilmington area, so it was something he felt would be a very good fit for him.
Wilmington’s med center serves more than 26,000 military veterans in Delaware and New Jersey, according to VA. The Northern Indiana Health Care System serves nearly 43,000 veterans in 26 counties in Indiana and three counties in northwest Ohio.
VA said in a statement that an interim director will be appointed for its Northern Indiana Health Care System while the department searches for a permanent leader.
The regional system employs 1,400 and has medical centers in Fort Wayne and Marion and community-based clinics in South Bend, Goshen, Peru and Muncie.
Baran-Prall said 628 people work at the Fort Wayne campus at Lake Avenue and Randallia Drive.
With Hendee at the helm of the regional system, VA scrapped plans to replace its nearly 200,000-square-foot Fort Wayne medical center, which opened in 1950. Instead, VA received congressional approval to rent 27,000 square feet of space to develop a mental health clinic, and the department intends to renovate the existing medical center, which has a 26-bed hospital.
Members of Local 1384 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 200 workers at the Fort Wayne campus, protested Wednesday outside the medical center. They told local TV stations that too many services were being outsourced and veterans’ care should be improved.
The Journal Gazette was unable to reach Ralph Anderson, president of Local 1384, for comment about Hendee’s upcoming transfer.
Baran-Prall paid credit to Hendee for putting us in a surplus financially while focusing on veterans’ health needs, staff leadership skills and community relations. She said he builds collaborations.
Under his watch, the regional system opened a new clinic in Peru and received congressional approval to rent 65,000 square feet of space for a new clinic in South Bend.