Miles City native tapped to lead VA Montana

Billings Gazette

by Cindy Uken

A Miles City native has been named director of the VA Montana Health Care System.

Christine A. Gregory was appointed to the post Thursday, according to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., the state’s only member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

Gregory will oversee health care delivery to nearly 35,000 veterans and an operating budget of $226 million. She is expected to begin duties at Fort Harrison within 45 to 60 days.

“Montana veterans earned high-quality health care, and I look forward to partnering with Christine to make VA Montana the best veterans care provider in the nation,” Tester said. “More veterans are returning home every day with wounds seen and unseen, and we have a responsibility to make sure they have access to care no matter where they live.”

Gregory is the associate director of patient care for the VA in Des Moines, Iowa.

“We are excited to bring Ms. Gregory on board as the new director of the VA Montana Health Care System,” said Ralph Gigliotti, director of the Rocky Mountain Network. “Her sound leadership qualities and proven experience will be valuable assets for the facility, the employees and volunteers, and most importantly, for the veterans we are honored to serve.”

The Rocky Mountain Network serves an area covering Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and portions of Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada and North Dakota.

U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., also lauded Gregory’s appointment.

“As a fifth-generation Montanan and son of a Marine, I have a deep appreciation for the sacrifices our state’s veterans have made and am strongly committed to ensuring they received the services and support they deserve,” Daines said. “Christine Gregory brings years of experience and service to her new role as director of VA Montana Health Care System, and I am confident that she will work tirelessly to serve Montana’s veterans. I look forward to working with her to provide our state’s veterans with the care they need.”

Gregory joined the VA more than 30 years ago and has held progressive leadership positions at the VA Medical Center in Miles City and the Central Iowa VA Health Care System in Des Moines. Most recently, she served as associate director for Patient Care Services at the Central Iowa VA Health Care System, which includes 48 medical-surgical, 10 psychiatric, 140 community living center, and 60 residential beds, as well as four community-based outpatient clinics. Central Iowa VA Health Care System has a budget of more than $198 million and more than 1,330 staff members.

Gregory holds a master’s degree in business administration from Iowa State University, a master’s degree in nursing from Ohio State University and bachelor’s degree in nursing from Montana State University.

The VA Montana Health Care System has a VA presence in every major city in the state through a series of community-based clinics, a community living center and an acute care medical center. Montana is home the second-highest number of veterans per capita of any state.

The VA Montana Health Care System covers the largest geographic area in the contiguous United States and has one of the largest per-capita veteran populations. More than 1,000 staff members are employed at Fort Harrison VA Medical Center, the 12 Community Based Outpatient Clinics and three Primary Care Tele-Outreach Clinics.

Tester has long kept an eye on the VA Montana. His recent efforts to improve the care of Montana’s veterans include helping to expand the Billings VA Clinic, improve veterans’ transportation options and connect more veterans with well-paying job opportunities.

Gregory will replace acting VA Montana director Lavonne Liversage.

A permanent replacement was sought for the embattled Robin Korogi, who was in August 2012 reassigned to Denver after a sustained uproar about her lack of leadership at the Helena-area hospital.