Heather Evans, M.D., MS, Named Chief of Surgery at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center

Lauren Hooker
August 13, 2023
Heather Evans MD

Heather Evans, M.D., MS, has been named the Chief of Surgery at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, a role previously held by surgical oncologist Mark L. Lockett, M.D., who now serves as Deputy Chief of Staff for Acute Care Services at the VA.

“We are extremely excited to welcome Dr. Evans to the VA.  Her surgical expertise and research experience will expand the capabilities of our Surgical Department,” said Lockett.  “She will help support our continued growth in all facets of our mission – outstanding clinical care, cutting edge research, and training the next generation of surgical professionals.”

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is the highest volume surgical program within Veterans Integrated Service Network 7 (GA, SC, AL) with a high complexity of care.  As Chief of Surgery, Evans will lead 133 employees across 17 clinical divisions.

Evans, a trauma surgeon with expertise in robotic and minimally invasive general surgery procedures, joined MUSC in the Department of Surgery in 2018, where she also serves­ as the Vice Chair of Clinical Research and Applied Informatics.

“We were fortunate to have recruited a surgeon into our department with her tremendous academic credentials,” said Prabhakar Baliga, M.D., chair of the Department of Surgery. “I am delighted to see her promoted to this leadership role at the VA. I believe Dr. Evans will be truly impactful to the care of the veterans and to the innovation at the VA.” 

Evans says she welcomes the opportunity to serve veterans in this leadership role.

The Charleston VA has the busiest robotic surgery program in VISN-7.  Over 11% of cases are done robotically, nearly three times the national VA rate.  Evans says this growth gives her a strong foundation to build on.  

“I've been very fortunate in the last couple of years with Dr. Crookes’ leadership in the Acute Care, Trauma and General Surgery division to be able to develop my own skill-set in robotic surgery and understand how to implement a robotic surgery program particularly focused on emergency general surgery and hernia care that I can now bring to the VA,” she said.      

According to Evans, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center provides a wide breadth of surgical offerings not available in many VA’s, including cardiac surgery, vascular surgery, bariatric surgery, urology, gynecology, neurosurgery, and orthopedics.  Many surgeons at the VA are also MUSC Health clinical providers who take the time to serve veterans at the VA.  

The tremendous growth in the greater Charleston area is expected to bring an influx of veterans to the region.  Evans is excited to build on the significant progress Surgical Services experienced under Lockett’s leadership.  She looks forward to further expanding surgical options for this growing patient population.

“It's an exciting time to be in this role.  We will find creative solutions so we can better serve the veterans that are growing in number every year,” Evans said. “Our VA is well-suited to meet their needs.” 

A dedicated educator and researcher, she says she is looking forward to mentoring students and residents who spend time at the VA.  She wants to make sure they have a meaningful training experience when caring for veterans.  She is looking forward to new research opportunities as well, noting the VA has a strong commitment to innovation to improve patient care.