Dorn physician guided by parents into ‘dream job’

Columbia VA Health Care System
Story by Jennifer Scales

Date: 06.26.2017
Posted: 06.26.2017 11:07
News ID: 239182
Dorn physician guided by father and mother into ‘dream job’

Jennifer Scales
Dorn Public Affairs Officer

The Chief Medical Officer for the Spartanburg Community-Based Outpatient Clinic, Roger Depra, has always wanted to be a doctor, no matter where he might have been elsewhere in his life.

Let’s just say that is due to the influence and observations Depra saw around his father, retired Air Force general practitioner physician Rogelio and even those of his mother, Florentina, who worked formerly as a Registered Nurse for close to 16 years at the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center in what is now known as the Community Living Center.

Unlike some of the other medical officers who work in the Dorn VAMC facility, Depra has deep local ties to the community given that he graduated locally and came back to the area after military service and other schooling.

“I graduated from Sumter High School,” Depra began. He then attended Syracuse University in New York and majored in mathematics. “But after some sole searching and the influence of my parents, I joined the Air Force and got commissioned as a 2nd Lt.,” he continued.

The field of information technology was the Air Force Specialty Code in which Depra flourished. He found himself working as an IT mid-level manager, literally deep within the Cheyenne Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colo. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was another component of his service and he also created web sites while stationed in the Pentagon.

But before his duty was over, the medical bug bit! He took a non-traditional method of getting his medical degree through Ross University, which is one of the premier Caribbean medical schools located in Portsmouth, Dominica that has been providing outstanding medical education since 1978.

As a student, he would make the rounds of training between DC and what is known as Cook County Hospital in Chicago.

Depra completed his residency at Spartanburg Regional in Family Medicine, which according to him, “was simply following in my dad’s footsteps.”

As chief medical officer of the Spartanburg CBOC, Depra oversees all administrative functions related to primary care. Depra explains, “It’s all about metrics and data and how the clinic performs. Our goal continues to be to execute the vision of the central VHA (Veterans Health Administration) Office to provide better care for our Veterans.”

Depra still has his panel of patients for which he must attend to their needs. According to him, he estimates 80 per cent of his time is devoted to patient care, while the other 20 per cent is allocated for other agendas.

On any typical day, Depra reviews laboratory/test results and then calls the patients himself to coordinate their care. “Veterans have so many needs, such as specialized equipment or medicines and they just have to come through us first.”

There is rare chance one might find there to be an opening in Depra’s schedule, as he sees a lot of patients. He expresses his concern for those Veterans who may go unseen throughout the world. “The healthcare crunch is to the point where there are just not enough providers to see everyone. Therefore, we have to address the acute and chronic cases first,” he said.

When the Depra family discusses Veterans issues, they can pretty much share experiences. His sister, Polly Moxley, who has the intelligence officer background and her husband Rick, are Air Force Veterans also. Depra’s wife BernaDeane, affectionately known as “Bernie”, also has an Air Force background having worked with the component’s Office of Special Investigations.

Depra also enjoys spending local time with Bernie and their sons Michael and Christopher either on bike rides, swimming, or watching movies. The family may even venture into the mountains or head for the shores of Myrtle Beach, weather permitting.

“Working for the VA is my dream job and the best thing that could have happened to me since my wife and kids,” Depra said. “No matter what, everything we do and say matters, as we continue to provide health care to Veterans. The VA is still one of the first sources for quality care when you consider the volume of patients we are responsible for,” Depra concluded.

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