Leadership Team - VA Connecticut Healthcare System
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VA Connecticut Healthcare System


Leadership Team

Alfred Montoya, Jr. MHA, FACHE, VHA-CM, Director

Alfred Montoya, Jr. MHA, FACHE, VHA-CM | 203-937-3888


Alfred A. Montoya, Jr. was appointed Director of VA Connecticut Healthcare System on October 13, 2019. Mr. Montoya is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force serving for over 10 years as a Russian Cryptologic Linguist. He served as an Instructor of Technology and Military Science, providing our Air Force personnel operational training on the EC-130H Compass Call which is a system on a C-130 Hercules airframe that disrupts enemy command and control communications. He previously served as the Director for the VA Medical Center in Manchester, NH. Mr. Montoya received a master's degree in Healthcare Administration from Walden University and a bachelor's degree from Wayland Baptist University. He is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute, Leadership for a Democratic Society program, and the Leadership Veterans Affairs (LVA) program. Mr. Montoya joined the VA in 2009 and served in various leadership positions of increasing responsibility including Assistant Director, VA Connecticut HCS; Director, White River Junction VA Medical Center, and Manchester VA Medical Center. Montoya was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth College.

Russell Armstead, CGFM, Deputy Medical Center Director

Russell Armstead, CGFM | 203-937-3888

Deputy Medical Center Director

Russell Armstead, CGFM, assumed the duties of Deputy Executive Medical Center Director at VA Connecticut Healthcare System in September 2021. Mr. Armstead oversees healthcare operations at VA Connecticut Healthcare System for access to care, business processes, care coordination, customer service, health care delivery, infrastructure, performance management, and resource management. Mr. Armstead joined the VA in 2011 as an Administrative Officer for VISN 6 Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network after serving 21 years of active duty in the United States Army. Russell is a combat Veteran who was awarded two Bronze Star medals for exemplary achievements in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to his appointment as the Deputy Executive Medical Center Director, he served as Assistant Medical Center Director and Associate Medical Center Director at VA Maine Healthcare System. Russell is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives, a graduate of the VA Health Care Leadership Development Program, a Certified Government Financial Manager, and a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Mr. Armstead holds a bachelor's degree in Legal Studies and a master's degree in Environmental Policy and Management from the American Military University.

John Callahan, Associate Director

John Callahan | 203-937-3888

Associate Director

John J. Callahan was appointed Associate Director in January 2012. He is a native of Rhode Island and received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Rhode Island in 1980. Mr. Callahan has over 30 years of experience with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to his appointment as Associate Director, Mr. Callahan was Chief of Health Administration Service at the VA Medical Center Philadelphia, Penn. He began his VA career as a staff pharmacist in 1980 and since that time has served in increasingly complex leadership roles including Assistant Chief of Pharmacy, Project Coordinator/Facility Planner and Executive Assistant to the director. He is a graduate of the Network Healthcare Leadership Institute (NEHCLI) and a graduate of VA’s Executive Career Field Training Program (ECF) and Healthcare Leadership Institute. He is nationally certified as a Fellow Mentor. Mr. Callahan served as Acting Associate Director at VA Medical Center Fargo, North Dakota and from May to October 2010, he served a six-month detail as acting Associate Director at VAMC Philadelphia.

Huned Patwa, MD, Chief of Staff

Huned Patwa, MD | 203-937-3825

Chief of Staff

Dr. Patwa was appointed Chief of Staff June 1, 2021. He joined VA Connecticut in 2007 as the Chief of Neurology. He is a professor of Neurology at the Yale University School of Medicine. In his new position, he will also be the Associate Dean for Veterans Affairs for the Yale School of Medicine. He received his undergraduate degree at Carnegie Mellon University and his medical training at New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Patwa completed his residency training in Neurology at Yale followed by a fellowship in Clinical Neurophysiology also at Yale. He is board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology and Neuromuscular Medicine. He has cared for patients for over 20 years. Dr. Patwa’s clinical and research interests are in the diagnosis and treatment of nerve and muscle diseases including inflammatory neuropathies, myopathies, myasthenia gravis and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). He has lectured nationally and internationally on the management of neuromuscular diseases and has been Chief of the Yale Neuromuscular Medicine Division since 2017. As an expert in the treatment of neuromuscular diseases, he was the lead author on the American Academy of Neurology guidelines on Intravenous Immunoglobulin treatment for neuromuscular disorders and served on national committees. Dr. Patwa is the Director of the ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence and was recognized for his extraordinary and compassionate medical care to those fighting ALS with the Beacon of Light Award. He has been a principal investigator or co-investigator on numerous clinical trials for neuromuscular disorders and is currently leading clinical trials for the treatment of ALS at Yale. As Chair of the VA ALS Executive Committee he is responsible for developing national policy for the care of veterans with ALS. Dr. Patwa is a dedicated educator. He was the Yale Neurology Clerkship Director for a decade and lectures in the Neurology course at Yale. He is the recipient of the VA New England Healthcare System ICARE award in 2016 for his commitment to systems redesign and process improvement.

Bernadette Y. Jao, DNP, RN, PMH-BC,  Associate Director for Nursing and Patient Care Services

Bernadette Y. Jao, DNP, RN, PMH-BC | 203-937-3888

Associate Director for Nursing and Patient Care Services

Bernadette Y. Jao, DNP, RN, PMH-BC was appointed Associate Director of Patient and Nursing Services April 26, 2020. Dr. Jao brings 36 years of nursing experience, including academic and private sector, and more than 21 years of progressive leadership experience within VA. She joined VA Connecticut from the Manchester VA Medical Center where she served as the Associate Director for Patient and Nursing Services since 2018. Prior to assuming that position, Dr. Jao served as the ADPCS at the Wilmington VAMC. She also served as the Interim ADPCS and Associate Chief Nurse for Mental Health at the Northport VAMC. Before that appointment, she served as the Associate Chief Nurse for Mental Health at the Maryland VAMC and Nurse Manager for Mental Health at the Bay Pines VAMC. She has wide-ranging backgrounds in providing leadership in Mental Health, Medical and Surgical Services, SPS and Primary Care. She has served on various Integrated Project Teams for VHA’s Office of Nursing Services and has held committee appointments at the national, regional, and local levels. Dr. Jao is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute (FEI) Leadership for a Democratic Society program. She was the recipient of the 2019 VA Secretary's Award for Excellence in Nursing – Nurse Executive. In February 2021, Dr. Jao was appointed as Special VA Faculty at Fairfield University’s Egan School of Nursing, and most recently has been appointed as an Associate Clinical Professor at the Yale University School of Nursing.

Deeksha Ahuja, MPH, Assistant Director

Deeksha Ahuja, MPH | 203-937-3888

Assistant Director

Deeksha Ahuja, MPH, was appointed VA Connecticut Healthcare System Assistant Director on Oct. 10, 2021. Ms. Ahuja manages Community Based Outpatient Clinic operations; Environmental Management Services; Privacy Office; Strategic Planning; and the Center for Development and Civic Engagement (formerly Voluntary Services). Prior to this appointment, since August 2018, Ms. Ahuja served as the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System Business Manager for Rehabilitation Service. The Polytrauma System of Care, Blind Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Injury/Disorders, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Recreation Therapy were part of this service. Additionally, Ms. Ahuja served as the Program Director of the Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program (PTRP), a 12-bed traumatic brain injury unit focused on community reintegration for Special Operation Forces, Active Duty Servicemembers, and Veterans. Ms. Ahuja was also the Administrative Officer, Polytrauma System of Care at VAPAHCS and Administrative Officer, Pharmacy Service at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAHCS). Ms. Ahuja earned a bachelor's degree in Finance from Purdue University. She has a master's degree in Public Health with a focus in Health Policy & Management from Saint Louis University. She then completed the Veterans Health Administration Graduate Healthcare Administrative Training Program at the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System. She is an active member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and currently working towards obtaining Fellow status.