VA mourns passing of top doctor

Local News

ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A hospital that serves veterans throughout the region is mourning the sudden passing of its Chief of Staff.

Dr. Samuel Magee joined the staff of the James E. Van Zandt V.A. Medical Center in 2015, and three years later, when Sigrid Andrew became the hospital’s director, she promoted him to Chief of Staff.

According to Andrew’s Executive Assistant Shaun Shenk, the new initiative of the top leadership was to expand services.

In 2018, the V.A. Medical Center added an infusion center, sparing veterans a trip out of the area, or to another hospital for chemotherapy. Services and procedures that followed include colonoscopy and upper GI endoscopy, a new MRI and construction of an imaging center which, according to the Veterans Administration, is the most advanced in its entire system. The local hospital now also offers cataract surgery, and recently began providing orthopedic surgery.

“Dr. Magee was pivotal in accomplishing those tasks and in many ways he was relentless in accomplishing those tasks,” Shenk said.

He added that Magee was first in the office in the morning and last out at night, Although the chief of staff was dedicated to his work, Shenk noted that he was just as dedicated to the people he worked with, and the patients he treated.

“Dr. Magee is a giant in the community, he was a giant in this hospital, and even after his passing, every day I hear stories of people who worked with him, who knew the family, who, he started their career, or they interned under him,” Shenk said. “So, in some way, shape, or form, he touched the overwhelming majority of not only the people who worked here but the overall community.”

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Before coming to the V.A. Medical Center, Magee had served as the president of the medical staff and the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Altoona Hospital.

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