July 2, 2013

Vanderbilt mourns Manuel Benegas Jr.

Manuel Benegas Jr., J.D., program administrator for quality systems strategy in the Department of Quality and Patient Safety, died June 26 while vacationing with his family in Hawaii. He was 48.

Mr. Benegas, originally from Fort Dodge, Iowa, came to Vanderbilt in 2009 with his wife, Nancy Benegas, M.D., assistant professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. He has been overseeing administration for VUMC’s quality and safety organization serving as the chief of staff for the Center for Clinical improvement.

During his time at Vanderbilt, Mr. Benegas became an integral part of the Medical Center’s ongoing mission to continually improve health care quality and patient safety.

“Manny was a valued member of the Medical Center’s administration, a positive force continually seeking to make the environment for our patients safer and the delivery of care more effective,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “We will miss his contributions. On behalf of the Medical Center, I want to express our deepest sympathies to Nancy and to Manny’s family as we all mourn this unexpected loss,” Pinson said.

“Manny was a terrific colleague, a true professional and a “go to” kind of guy,” said Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Adult Health Affairs, chief medical officer for Vanderbilt Medical Group and George W. Hale Professor and chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences.

“He brought wonderful value to our Quality team. However, I knew Manny best as an amazing husband to Nancy, who is a gifted pediatric ophthalmologist at Vanderbilt Eye Institute, and as an engaged father to two terrific sons, Max, 16, and Quinn, 11. This is a tragic loss to all of us,” Sternberg said.

Gerald Hickson, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for Health Affairs and director of the Center for Patient and Professional Advocacy, said Mr. Benegas was committed to improving health care safety. “Manny was an incredible professional who was instrumental in helping us as we pursue high reliability at Vanderbilt. Manny recognized the importance of delivering high quality and safe care to the individuals we serve. He worked in a thoughtful way, appealing to our collective professionalism and desire to make medicine kinder and safer,” Hickson said.
Collin Mothupi, a quality value analyst in the Department of Quality and Patient Safety, said that Mr. Benegas was both a colleague and a dear friend.

“To know Manny is akin to knowing the true meaning of integrity, attention to detail, and compassion. For me, and countless other Vanderbilt colleagues, he has been a rock, a brother, and trusted advisor, both professionally and personally. Never did he compromise the truth, for the sake of friendship or his profession, his decision making process was always based on the bigger picture of whatever issue was at hand, and his leadership steadfast as a result. He will be truly missed and we pray his spirits lives within us.”

Mr. Benegas came to Vanderbilt in 2009 from Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul and Minneapolis. There, he served for 10 years in a variety of patient safety, quality improvement, strategic planning and system advancement roles, including serving five years as executive director of the hospital’s Center for Care Innovation and Research.

He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern University in Boston, and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.

A memorial service is tentatively being planned for July 20 at University School of Nashville.