AHA Board Member Norvell ‘Van’ Coots, M.D., a renowned health care and military leader, passed away last week. He was 65. 

Coots most recently was the Chair of the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Center Research Hospital Board, which was established in 2016 to oversee operations at the NIH Clinical Center focused on fortifying a culture and practice of safety and quality and strengthening leadership for clinical care quality, oversight and compliance. 

Prior to that, Coots led Holy Cross Health in Silver Spring, Md., for seven years before retiring in January 2024. Holy Cross Health is part of Trinity Health system. Under his leadership Holy Cross Health became a regional leader in comprehensive cancer care, and he established the Trinity Health Military and Veterans Healthcare Program to meet the specific needs of military service members, veterans and their families, among many other accomplishments. 

In 2016, Coots retired from the United States Army as a Brigadier General after serving 36 years and receiving many awards and recognitions. His final assignment was as the Commanding General of Regional Health Command Europe, and as the Command Surgeon for the US Army Europe and 7th Army. Other assignments included Deputy Commanding General of the US Army Medical Command, the Assistant Surgeon General of the Army, and Surgeon General for the US Forces in Afghanistan. From 2008- 2011, he served as the final Commander of the historic Walter Reed Healthcare System and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. 

Coots joined the AHA Board of Trustees in 2024. His previous roles with the AHA include serving as chair of Federal Systems Strategic Leadership Group, Maryland representative on the AHA Regional Policy Board for the Mid-Atlantic states from 2018-2020, and as an alternate in 2017, as well as alternate federal representative from 2009-2011. 

“Van was a tremendous leader who lived his life in service to our country and the patients and communities he cared for,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “He leaves a legacy of dedication, commitment and accomplishment in improving the health and well-being of others, including countless men and women who served in our military. Our health care field and nation are better thanks to Van’s efforts. The entire AHA family extends our condolences to Van’s family and his Trinity Health family.” 
Coots was a certified dermatologist. He received his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center and master’s degree in strategic studies from the Army War College in Pennsylvania.

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