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VA San Diego Healthcare System


Leadership Team

Portrait of Jeffrey T. Gering, FACHE

Jeffrey T. Gering, FACHE | 858-642-3201


As the Director/Chief Executive Officer of the VA San Diego Healthcare System, Jeff Gering is responsible for a dynamic health care organization that ensures the health of 75,000 veterans in San Diego and Imperial counties. Mr. Gering came to San Diego in May 2012 from Ohio, where he was the Director of the Chillicothe VA Medical Center since September 2007. He previously held positions as the Associate Director at the Hines VA Hospital and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, health system specialist in VA Central Office for the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management, and administrator of the Psychiatry Service at the Washington DC VA Medical Center. Mr. Gering began his VA career as an Administrative Resident at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center in 1990.

Mr. Gering has also held various positions at the Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St. Louis, St. Louis University Medical Center, Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Chicago and the National Bank of Detroit.

He has a Masters of Health Administration from Saint Louis University, School of Public Health and a Bachelors of Science degree from Indiana University, School of Business. He is a Fellow with the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE) as well as a member of the Regent Advisory Council and ACHE CEO Committee. In 2013, Mr. Gering was selected as the "VA Preceptor of the Year".

Portrait of Cynthia Abair, MHA

Cynthia Abair, MHA | (858) 642-3205

Associate Director

Ms. Cynthia E. Abair began as the Associate Director of the VA San Diego Health Care System effective July 22, 2007. In her current position, she oversees administrative operations including Engineering, Financial Management, Health Administration, Human Resources, Logistics, Environmental Health and Safety, and Voluntary Service. Prior to this assignment, she served as the Associate Director of the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System from February 2005 to July 2007. Previously, Cindy was a member of the Network 22 staff in Long Beach, California from July 1, 2003 until February 2005 where she served as Acting Network Operations Officer and the Acting Network Human Resources Manager. Prior to joining the Network, she held the position of Special Assistant to the Director at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System from December 2000 through June 2003, and served as Executive Assistant to the Director at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System from June 1997 to December 2000. Cindy began her VA career in 1987 as an Administrative Resident at the VA Long Beach; she completed the Health System Specialist Training program and then served as the Medical Service Administrative Officer until assuming the position of Executive Assistant to the Director.

Cindy completed the Executive Career Field (ECF) Development program as a member of the Class of 2002 and Leadership VA 2003.

Cindy graduated from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science degree and from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri with a Master of Health Administration. Cindy is a native of Memphis, Tennessee and is married to Tom Abair, who is a registered nurse, a veteran, and currently serving as a Lt. Commander in the US Navy Reserves.

Portrait of Robert M. Smith, MD

Robert M. Smith, MD | 858-642-3241

Chief of Staff/Medical Director

Dr. Robert Smith was appointed as Chief of Staff/Medical Director at the VA San Diego Healthcare System in March 2010. Dr. Smith joined the VA San Diego Healthcare System in 1993 as the Director of Medical Critical Care while leading a research program focusing on acute lung injury. In 1997, he was appointed as the Associate Chief of Staff for Healthcare Analysis assuming leadership over the implementation of the electronic medical record system at VASDHS and the integration of that system with efforts to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare. He took on the role of Associate Chief of Staff for Research and Development in 2008 and served as acting Chief of Staff/Medical Director at VASDHS from June 2009 to March 2010.

Dr. Smith graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelors of Science in Engineering in 1975, and from McGill University School of Medicine in 1979. He completed his residency training in Internal Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. He was Chief Resident in Internal Medicine prior to undergoing fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at UCSD and a further Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Biochemistry at the Research Institute of Scripps Clinic.

Dr. Smith is a Diplomat of the American Board of Internal Medicine and has additional specialty certification in Pulmonary Medicine and Critical Care Medicine. He is Professor of Medicine at UCSD School of Medicine and a Fellow of both the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians. He has been a member of the VHA Informatics Committee and recently served as the Department of Veterans Affairs representative to the Health and Human Services American Health Information Community on Electronic Medical Records. He has previously served on the Network 22 Quality and Performance Improvement Council, Executive Leadership Board, and Information Management Committees, and chaired the Network 22 Data Management Board.

Portrait of Sandra Solem, PhD, RN

Sandra Solem, PhD, RN | 858-642-3839

Associate Director, Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive

Dr. Sandra Solem joins the VA San Diego Healthcare System as Associate Director Patient Care Services/Nurse Executive with greater than 30 years of demonstrated leadership excellence in academic as well as Healthcare Environments. Most recently, an Associate Nurse Executive at the Charleston VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina, Dr. Solem initiated a Shared Governance structure for Nursing and Patient Care Service and completed a three month detail in the Lexington, Kentucky VA Medical Center to implement a Veteran-Centered Partnership Model of Nursing within the facility.

During her career, Dr. Solem has enjoyed the diversity of clinical and academic environments and the opportunities for various leadership positions afforded through career mobility in the nursing profession. Research interest includes resiliency in survivors of intimate partner violence, nursing workforce development and horizontal violence. Dr. Solem has been a consultant for various projects in the private sector and Department of Defense focused on change management, Organizational leadership and development and team building. A project at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2005 inspired Dr. Solem to return to the VA from the academic setting. A native of Montana, she and her husband Craig enjoy hiking, camping, golf, and reading.

Photo not available

Sarah E. Bass | (858) 642-3839

Acting, Assistant Director