Military Veterans in Focus at Kovner-Behrman Health Forum

Dr. Carolyn Clancy

The 18th Annual Kovner-Behrman Health Forum at NYU Wagner featured Carolyn Clancy, M.D., Assistant Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Quality, Safety and Value at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In a spirited and informative keynote speech, she described the Veterans Health Administration and its continung drive toward excellence and high achievement.

Dr. Clancy was introduced with welcoming remarks by Wagner's Professor John Donnellan, who worked extensively in New York City for the VA after earning his MPA from Wagner in 1984. As a graduate student, his professor and mentor was Professor Anthony Kovner, now his colleague, who sat front-and-center in an audience which consisted of many Wagner Health Policy & Management alumni, faculty, and students, and a range of healthcare professionals.

Carolyn Clancy, a general internist, a researcher on disparities in healthcare and other pressing issues, and an accomplished and seasoned U.S. healthcare administrator, described a vast, mission-driven, national VA healthcare system that has led the way in healthcare innovation, safety, efficiencies, and needs-responsive medical services. It consists of 151 medical centers, well over 985 outpatient centers, and 70 mobile health units. Its size, she said, is demonstrated by its staff of 822,000 employees. No less than two-thirds of U.S. doctors have received training in a VA facility. "Pretty amazing," she said.

The organization aims to become even more patient-driven, she noted, adding that the philosophy that comes clearly from the top, and is taken to heart across the agency, is: "We owe it to them [our nation's war veterans] to help them do much better, so they can get back to the rest of their lives."

The Kovner-Berhman Health Forum was established by Professor Kovner in 1996. It convenes leading health experts for a dialogue about how to improve the healthcare delivery sytsem. With extensive experience as both a health practioner and academic, Anthony Kovner saw the value of bridging the gap between the two sectors. Each year, experts at the forum engage a different healthcare topic that is relevant to both practioners and researchers, with the goal of learning from one another and improving overall health outcomes.