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SimLEARN dedicates innovation room in memory of past VHA leader


An image of the plaque dedicating the Robert L. Jesse Innovation Room. (VA courtesy photo)

By Gerald Sonnenberg
EES Marketing and Communication 

ORLANDO – On Feb. 21, staff at the VHA SimLEARN National Simulation Center, held a special room dedication ceremony in honor of the late Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert L. Jesse, who passed away Sept. 2, 2017. Dr. Jesse was an advocate for the development of a national simulation-based training program and the building of the National Simulation Center. In attendance for the Dr. Robert L. Jesse Innovation Room ceremony was his wife Dr. Janice Jesse and Dr. Jesse’s sister Mary Peterson, as well as leaders from the Orlando VA Medical Center (OVAMC).

Dr. Haru Okuda, SimLEARN national medical director, and Patient Care Services acting deputy chief patient care services officer, opened the event, and Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VHA executive in charge, offered her remembrances via teleconference of Dr. Jesse’s long and distinctive career with VA as a physician and advocate for America’s Veterans.

The room was then dedicated and a plaque unveiled by Dr. Okuda; Dr. Lygia Arcaro, SimLEARN nursing program director, Office of Nursing Services; and Mary Fakes, acting deputy chief learning officer, Employee Education System. This was followed by a benediction by Chaplain Marvin Luckie, OVAMC supervisory chaplain, and special remarks by Mary Fakes, which closed the ceremony.  

The plaque reads in part, “Dr. Robert L. Jess, M.D., Ph.D., was a visionary leader within VHA. One of his greatest legacies as a leader was his ability to encourage others to reach their potential. He ensured others were recognized and received credit for their efforts, though he never sought accolades … Upon appointment to the position of VA Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health on July 4, 2010, he continued to advocate and support the SimLEARN National Simulation Program. The 51,000 sq. ft. National Simulation Center was completed in September 2016. The Robert L. Jesse Innovation Room is dedicated to Dr. Jesse in memory of his passion, vision, leadership and dedication to our Nation’s Veterans.”