Uchenna S. Uchendu was appointed as the Chief Officer for Health Equity, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) within the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2013. In this role, Dr. Uchendu is championing the advancement of health equity and reduction of health disparities for all, especially vulnerable populations based on racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation; geographic location; military era or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion. Dr. Uchendu transitioned from a successful multi-specialty practice to join VHA at the Shreveport VA Medical Center in 2001. She championed rural health and VHA Primary Care - Mental Health Integration through her successful involvement with the Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Translating Initiatives in Depression into Effective Solutions (TIDES) research project. Subsequently, while at the Reno VA Medical Center, she was instrumental in reaching and surpassing goals on various aspects of the functions, operations and quality outcomes of ambulatory care and special VHA programs. Dr. Uchendu was also the Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT) implementation coach for three of the VA medical centers in Veterans Service Integrated Network (VISN) 21 – Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Hawaii, in addition to leading the team in Reno. She served on several national level workgroups including three of the key workgroups for the VHA adoption and implementation of the Patient Centered Medical Home Model customized in VHA as PACT.
In her current role, Dr. Uchendu launched and steered the VHA Health Equity Coalition to deliver the first VHA Health Equity Action Plan (HEAP) in record time and is leading the charge for the deployment. She led the effort and served as a guest editor for the 2014 American Journal of Public Health Supplement dedicated to Veterans Health Equity and the first-ever National Veterans Health Equity Report published in 2016. She has also developed two interactive virtual patient health equity trainings modules and launched the Focus on Health Equity and Action Cyberseminar Series. Dr. Uchendu represents VHA and serves as liaison to other governmental and non-governmental organizations working to achieve health equity. She graduated from the University of Nigeria, College of Medicine and completed residency training in internal medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Jersey City Medical Center Program. Dr. Uchendu is a member of the American College of Physicians, the Society of General Internal Medicine, the American Association for Physician Leadership, the Federal Health Care Executives Institute Alumni Association, and the National Academy of Medicine Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities.