Valley Health official to use business skills on council

Jacob Meza

FRONT ROYAL – Town Council’s newly appointed member runs urgent care clinics for Valley Health and says he wants to bring his business skills to the panel.

Jacob Meza, 33, serves as director for urgent care and occupational health in an outpatient division of the medical services provider. Meza said Tuesday it was his decision to relocate Valley Health’s Urgent Care clinic on North Commerce Avenue to Riverton Commons the U.S. 340-522 Corridor.

“For better or worse, that was my decision to move that,” Meza said. “I know that’s a hot topic. A lot of people are having a hard time understanding it, particularly in light of some of the politics around the 522 Corridor and Riverton Commons but I’ll tell you it had everything to do with the strategic decision more than it had anything to do with town politics.”

The typical business models for private urgent care clinics use standalone facilities in a retail setting with high visibility and traffic, Meza said. Valley Health could serve a greater population by locating its clinic in Riverton Commons given its proximity to major highways, Meza added. Moving the clinic to the shopping center also prevented competitors from taking the space and potentially cutting the clinic’s customer base in half, Meza said.

“Now that’s not to say I’m not going to open up another facility back in the outpatient center on the other side of town,” Meza said. “I still have intentions to be there. I just wanted to get my business where I knew our competitor was going to go before they did it and then we lost all market advantage.”

Valley Health does have plans to either reopen its clinic on North Commerce Avenue or create another facility in town limits, Meza added.

“We’re in the business to serve the community of Front Royal so I want to create as much access to care as I possibly can so that people can have convenient options,” Meza said.

Council voted 3-2 on Monday to appoint Meza to fill the vacancy left when Daryl L. Funk stepped down Dec. 31 to take the Warren County Circuit Court clerk’s position. Town Council appointed Meza to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission on Aug. 10.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt and Vice Mayor Hollis Tharpe voted against the appointment at the meeting. Council members John Connolly, Bébhinn Egger and Bret Hrbek voted for Meza’s appointment.

Meza said that he hopes to use his experience and background in business to benefit the town.

“I don’t have killer aspirations for new developments or new plans as much as I would like to evaluate our current economic growth and see what we can do differently, maybe, in that realm for the future,” Meza said.

Meza will serve out the remainder of what was Funk’s first term on council. The term expires Dec. 31. Meza said it is too soon to tell if he will run for the seat in the November election.

Meza is originally from Red Bluff, near Sacramento, California. Meza lived in Front Royal from 2001 to 2005 to attend Christendom College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. Connolly also attended Christendom. Meza later received his master’s degree in business administration through Benedictine College in Kansas and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Meza returned to Front Royal in 2010 to work for Valley Health. He runs urgent care facilities in the Front Royal area as well as centers in Winchester and Martinsburg, West Virginia.

His work in the occupational health field touches many of the major employers in the area, particularly in Warren County and the industries connected to the Virginia Inland Port, as well as the distribution centers and the town itself, Meza said.

“Having met with a lot of those people and working with those different individuals is one of my reasons why I started getting more into the political side of things – the Planning Commission and Town Council,” Meza said. “But, honestly, a large part of what kinda sparked my interest in it is the fact that I have a family of four children … and I started to put down roots in the community and so I know I’m going to be here for a while.

“If I’m going to be here a while, I wanted … the opportunity to see what I could take from my business background and see how I could serve the town of Front Royal, by applying what I do in business for Valley Health and see how that can translate into economic development and growth over the next 10 years” Meza added.

Valley Health has turned its urgent care centers into a “thriving business,” Meza said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com