Dr. Alan Bridges wins prestigious Veterans Health Administration award

Dr. Alan Bridges, winner of the VHA John D. Chase Award

Alan Bridges, MD, professor and interim division chief, Rheumatology, senior vice chair, Department of Medicine, and chief of staff at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, has won the prestigious Veterans Health Administration (VHA) John D. Chase Award for Executive Excellence in Health Care.

This award recognizes sustained executive leadership by an individual from any health care discipline. It’s named for Dr. John D. Chase, who was the chief medical director of the Veterans Administration from 1974 to 1978.  

Dr. Bridges has held multiple VHA leadership roles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He serves on the VHA’s national COVID-19 care transition planning team and on the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital’s incident command team. He is also the medical incident commander for the Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN) 12, also known as the VA Great Lakes Health Care System. In this capacity, he oversees the medical response for eight VA hospitals spanning from central Illinois to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

When the initial surge of COVID hit Chicago in early summer, he provided leadership to the two Chicago-area VA hospitals in support of the VA’s Fourth Mission, accepting humanitarian patients from the private sector in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to respond to the pandemic.

“This is a well-deserved honor for an individual who has dedicated his working life to ensuring our Veterans receive top quality care,” said John Rohrer, Madison VA hospital director. “I have had the honor and privilege of working with Dr. Bridges for over 30 years, and I can honestly say there is no one more worthy of this recognition.” 

“I am thrilled that Dr. Bridges has received this national recognition,” said Lynn M. Schnapp, MD, chair, Department of Medicine. “His work to ensure the best possible care for Veterans during this pandemic has been nothing short of amazing. For over 20 years, he has been an indispensable leader in our department and for our partners at the Madison VA hospital. He is a consummate professional who truly deserves this award.”

“It is a true pleasure to work with Alan in his role as chief of staff at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital,” said Robert N. Golden, MD, Dean, UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “He is a remarkably effective and innovative leader, as well as a wonderful partner, colleague, and person. I am delighted that he has received this well-deserved, top honor from the Veterans Health Administration.”

A servant leader known for innovation and performance

Peers describe Dr. Bridges as a true servant leader: an approachable listener who always puts others’ interests before his own, and who always respectfully shares his knowledge and perspective.

Yet, his soft-spoken, humble demeanor belies his remarkable accomplishments.

At the Madison VA, Dr. Bridges promotes the spirit of innovation and dissemination of best practices, as evidenced by the many projects he and his staff have submitted to national VA innovation labs.

A key leader in the Madison VA’s High Reliability Organization journey, he is participating in a baseline facility assessment and promoting a Just Culture

Dr. Bridges also led the Madison VA as one of the national "Moving Forward" pilot sites, implementing dashboards, checklists and huddle reports to safely increase face-to-face patient visits to ensure an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, under Dr. Bridges’ leadership, the Madison VA has become a high-performing facility, with CMS mortality, outpatient care, mental health care, care transition, employee satisfaction and hospital rating metrics all in the top quintile in the VA Strategic Analytics for Improvement and Learning (SAIL) performance metrics. This work has earned the Madison VA a national reputation as a leading VA hospital.

Dr. Bridges was appointed chief of staff of the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital on September 4, 2005.

In addition to his duties at the Madison VA, Dr. Bridges is the medical director of the Clinical Immunology Laboratory at UW Hospital and Clinics.

Banner: Dr. Alan Bridges, winner of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) John D. Chase Award for Executive Excellence in Health Care, at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison. Credit: Clint Thayer/Department of Medicine.