John Rohrer, the new acting medical director of the Tomah VA has only been on the job for a few weeks, but is already hard at work rebuilding trust he said was lost under previous leadership.
"One of the things I've focused on the most in the last week and a half and will continue to is communication," he said. "To open up lines of communication with the staff, throughout the facility."
To do that, Rohrer said he dedicates a large part of his day to walking around the VA campus and talking with employees.
"I want to build systems that allow feedback loops so the staff can feel comfortable bringing up any issue they need to bring up," Rohrer said. "Especially any issue that might lead to patient safety."
Rohrer said he spoke with an employee on Wednesday while walking around the campus and left the conversation sensing a serious lack of trust between senior leadership and everyday employees.
"He asked me where my entourage was and I said I don't travel with one," Rohrer said. "I told him you don't have to trust me and he said 'well good because I can't trust anyone I just met' and I realize that trust must be earned."
The VA said it is actively working to create a healthier working environment for all of its employees.
"We have a VA group that we've asked to come in called the National Center for Organizational Development and they come in and help get feedback from your staff to help you move forward," he said.
Rohrer is on a 120 day assignment as the acting medical director. The VA would not comment on who would replace him.
"My goal before I leave is to have some of these systems in place so whoever comes in here, the staff can be assured that nothing I started stops," he said. "Everything continues on. I believe wholeheartedly that is what's going to happen."