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Valley Health gives SAAA $5,000

System could add another $10,000 if Forty Friends campaign generates same amount

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The financial perils facing the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging eased a bit Thursday with the announcement that Valley Health System will contribute $5,000 to its coffers, the largest sum SAAA has received since it was overtaken by a financial crisis in September.

Mark H. Merrill, Valley Health's president and CEO, said his organization made the contribution in recognition of the need for SAAA to survive a crisis that has produced the dismissal of its top three executives, investigations into possible criminal wrongdoing, lawsuits and pay cuts for managers and staff.

The contribution came with a commitment by Valley Health to add an additional $10,000 to its contribution if SAAA can raise another $10,000 to its Forty Friends fundraising campaign.

Merrill said he and Valley Health's board of directors have been encouraged by steps SAAA has taken to regain its financial equilibrium in recent months, despite continuing cash flow troubles.

"We're giving them a shot in the arm and allowing them to continue the momentum they've been able to generate," Merrill said.

Board Chairman John Hudson said the contribution "will help tremendously" in the agency's efforts to reach a fund raising goal of $40,000 in its Forty Friends campaign.

The $5,000 contribution boosted the total amount raised in the campaign to $17,150, or 39 percent of the goal. "I can't tell you what this means to us," Hudson said.

Even as the agency celebrated Valley Health's support, Hudson disclosed in an interview that the agency has laid off three employees, two of them case managers, with another part-timer soon to follow.

The layoffs are the first at SAAA during the financial crisis, agency officials said. They follow the dismissals of former executive director Helen Cockrell, director of development Ann McIntyre and finance director Jim Shaffer.

The layoffs have left the agency with slightly more than 50 employees, a sharp decrease from a workforce of 72 in September. Agency officials said most of those who left did so to take jobs elsewhere or for other voluntary reasons.

In a related matter, the agency also announced the hiring of Cindy Vance as part-time finance director. Vance is a CPA and assistant professor of accounting at Shepherd University where she teaches undergraduate and graduate accounting and business courses.

Hudson said Vance has been working for two or three weeks. He said the agency was looking for someone with strong professional qualifications that could manage the agency's finances on a part-time basis.

In another matter, agency officials said they are making progress in cutting the waiting list for their Meals on Wheels program. They said 11 people have been added recently to Meals on Wheels delivery routes.

A news release accompanying the announcement of the Valley Health donation said more than 40 still remain on the waiting list for Meals on Wheels as well as 36 waiting for homemaker assistance and 18 on the personal care waiting list.


It is about time Valley Health gives back!!! I worked for them many years, when they were Winchester Medical Center... The bigger they grow, the more greedy they seem to get. I will NEVER go there for any health care needs. Working there for MANY years, I saw a lot and I know a lot. To bad everyone does not know what goes on behind the scenes..

Thank you WMC.a very nice and needed gesture for SAAA.Hopefully it will be used to give service to our seniors.Scotter,the hospital you are dissing is the same establishment that has saved many lives.No working place is perfect,sometime it is the people and not the establishment as a whole.
Observer,have I responded correctly and in a timely fashion?I hope all is satisfactory.My opinions about SAAA remain the same...Change,and disclosure!!!

Scooter, you are making a really big mistake saying you would never go to Winchester Hospital/Valley Health. I too have worked there, have been a patient there as well as family members having been patients, and had worked at numerous well known, big city hospitals in the Washington DC region in my 42 years as a health care worker. No hospital/employer is perfect, but Winchester is a whole lot better than most! As an employee I was treated better there than any place else, and the care there for their patients is every bit as good if not far superior to any at those "well known" hospitals in D.C. Again, are they "perfect"? No, but they give far better care to their patients than most any other hospital I have been a patient in or have worked in. I think there are too many people who live in this area who just do not realize how fortunate they are to have Winchester Hospital and have no clue as to what other hospitals are like in comparison.

They are nationally recognized in excellence as a cardiac care center but they also deserve recognition due to the size of their collective cooperate heart (as evidenced by their commitment to low/ moderate income frail senior citizens in the valley)it is certainly equally as impressive.

REALLY?? Valley Health can only give $5000, which is a tax write off for them? I should say, they could really offer more, wouldn't you think? Just sayin... Oh, but Valley Health is such a wonderful facility...NOT!!!

YES,REALLY.I cannot believe you are speaking so harshly about the institution that has served us for so many years.I know they write off bills for persons who cannot pay.I know they give excellent service,as indicated by their many awards.
I agree with song 98,be careful what you wish for you may get it.I expect if you were in a bad medical situation you would be grateful for care from WMC/VALLEY. Are they perfect,probably not.Is it a wonderful facility?It absolutely is.YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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