Valley Health eyes changes this year

Mark H. Merrill

WINCHESTER – Valley Health will be operating under a single governing board beginning in June.

In 2015, the Valley Health System Board of Trustees and Valley Health’s four Virginia Hospital Boards of Trustees approved a governance restructuring. The existing five boards will become a single governing board for Valley Health.

At the system’s annual corporation meeting on Tuesday, Valley Health President and CEO Mark Merrill said, “Change is hard,” but the restructuring creates standardized, consistent care across all Valley Health hospitals to become “one system, one purpose.”

He added that goals were created to improve service quality. These goals include continued community support, increased physician involvement, promoting alignment and leveraging board and management time and talent.

Page Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, Warren Memorial Hospital and Winchester Medical Center will all be operating under this single board.

Valley Health’s West Virginia hospitals, Hampshire Memorial and War Memorial, will not be impacted by the restructuring as their boards were consolidated in 2014.

Benefits of the new board, Merrill said, include increased line of sight, advancing the “one system” objective, enhancing accountability, promoting medical staff alignment, improving focus, clarity, simplicity, organizational nimbleness and management efficiencies.

Merrill outlined the current board composition, which includes five corporations, five boards and 60 total voting members. The new single board will consist of 17 members, with 15 voting and two non-voting members.

The Valley Health Board of Trustees will be supported by a Community Advisory Council, which will consist of 20 members to serve as liaisons between the Valley Health board and the communities served by Valley Health and provide feedback to the board and a Quality and Medical Affairs Committee, which will consist of 25 trustees, physicians and representatives from Valley Health who will monitor and address health care quality and performance.

“The board recognized the importance of quality,” he said, “as the backbone of our organization.”

Also on Tuesday, an annual progress report was presented to staff and trustees.

Merrill noted that the “state of the system is extremely healthy.”

Among the system’s successes is the creation of a new Front Royal Urgent Care that opened in March, the growth of clinical programs and an 86 percent market share in the Winchester region. Merrill added that each Valley Health hospital is the sole provider of inpatient care in its county.

Other successes include the building of a new Winchester Medical Center cancer center. So far, $9.5 million has been raised for this facility, with a $10 million goal. The new center is expected to open in August or September.

Shenandoah Memorial Hospital is also renovating its Emergency Department. It raised $1.5 million, exceeding the goal of $1 million. The renovations are expected to be finished next month.

Another upcoming project is a Joint Venture Ambulatory Surgery Center to be completed in August 2017.

“Health care is changing,” Merrill said.

In the past year, Valley Health was named one of the nation’s Most Wired health systems in 2015, was awarded an “A” for Hospital Safety score by the Leapfrog Group, was recognized as a 2015-2016 Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News & World Report and was presented with a Common Care award.

Merrill also noted that in an employee survey, Valley Health employee satisfaction increased to 77 percent from 71 percent.

Financially, he said Valley Health’s total revenue was $782,110,000 in 2015, an increase from $743,187,000 in 2014 and $708,518,000 in 2013.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com