Updated 4:30 p.m., Sept. 23, with new director announcement.
Keith Repko has been appointed as permanent director of the VA St. Louis Health Care System. He had been serving as interim director since January.
The appointment was announced Friday afternoon by the VA.
Repko is well-known at the St. Louis VA, where he's worked since 1991. Before his promotion as acting director, he served as a deputy director.
Our previous story:
The eighth interim director to lead the VA St. Louis Health Care System is Keith Repko, who has been deputy director of the agency for more than a year.
Repko says he will continue to focus on improving access to health care for area veterans.
“While I think we’ve made huge strides, we’ve still got some room for improvement,’’ he said.
The agency hasn’t had a permanent director since June 2013. Repko has a 120-day appointment, the standard length of time for interim terms. He succeeds Patricia Ten Haaf whose temporary appointment ended on Jan. 2.
The St. Louis VA serves 47,000 veterans in the region and includes the John Cochran hospital in St. Louis and Jefferson Barracks hospital in south St. Louis County, in addition to clinics in St. Charles, Washington and Belleville.
Repko has been deputy director since November 2014, but he’s worked at the St. Louis VA since 1991. He’s served in a number of positions, including chief engineer and associate medical center director.
Repko says he understands concerns over the length of time it has taken for the VA to find a permanent director in St. Louis. He noted that the search is not done regionally but is conducted by the VA’s central office. He believes the delay is because the VA has more than 30 director vacancies nationally.
“It’s that sheer volume of trying to replace that many directors at one time,’’ he said. “They’re not just trying to place anybody in specific positions. They’re really trying to find the right person to fill the right position.’’