WCSO celebrates Drug Take Back Day results

Warren County Sheriff's Office

Local law enforcement partnered with Valley Health and the Drug Enforcement Agency for the bi-annual Drug Take Back Day over the weekend.

Last year, organizations collected over 721,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs from across the country.

This year, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office alone collected 125 pounds of unneeded prescription medication.

The next Drug Take Back Day will be held in October.

You can also check with a local pharmacy to see if they offer a drug takeback program or contact the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and they will provide a free Deterra drug neutralizing pouch to dispose of medications.

Discarding unwanted and unneeded medications is the easiest way to reduce the chance of drug abuse, misuse or overdose in your home.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Valley Health and SU address nursing shortage

valley health covid-19 vaccine

Shenandoah University is working with Valley Health and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association to address the area’s nursing shortage.

Through the program NextGen Nurses, they will attempt to enhance training to inspire nurses and create a pipeline of future healthcare professionals.

The program utilizes the experience of semi-retired and retired nurses before they leave the profession and is designed to provide a replicable model for the rest of the state.

NextGen Nurses is funded in part by a $496,000 GO Virginia Economic Resilience and Recovery Grant.

This is part of a state-funded initiative by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to diversify the economy and create higher-wage jobs in strategic fields.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VH eliminates some administrative and leadership positions

Valley Health (VH) Public Relations Manager Carol Weare reports by email that some administrative positions have been eliminated at VH.

The changes are to help VH streamline its leadership and support positions.

Last week 31 administrative individuals were notified that their positions have been eliminated.

Since Jan. VH has  eliminated nearly 100 positions through consolidation and attrition.

VH’s President and CEO Mark Nantz sighted the shrinking of the health care workforce combined with the rapidly rising clinician pay, declining demand and insurance reimbursements as the reasons for consolidation of the leadership and administrative roles.

Nantz went on to note that VH has incurred nearly $100 million in losses since the beginning of the pandemic.

Much of the loss was offset by federal assistance which will not continue.

Nantz added that it was time to face the reality that expenses cannot exceed revenue and by addressing the changing environment now helps avoid more drastic cuts later.

Nantz added that VH currently remains a financially strong and stable health system.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Valley Health celebrates 29th Annual Community Wellness Festival

valley health covid-19 vaccine

Today is the 29th Annual Valley Health Community Wellness Festival.

From 10 am to 5 pm at the Apple Blossom Mall, there will be over 80 health wellness and fitness exhibits, fitness demonstrations, and a children focused wellness experience.

There will also be free or low cost health screenings for blood pressure checks, blood glucose testing, cardiovascular screenings, and more.

They will also be collecting donations for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank at the Valley Health Mobile Coach in the mall parking lot or at the festival headquarters inside.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Valley Health joins Peak Health ownership

Valley Health report announced they are joining West Virginia University Health System, Mountain Health Network, and Marshall Health as an owner of Peak Health.

The mission of this new partnership is to make healthcare more accessible, understandable, and collaborative.

Peak Health currently serves 32,000 WVU Health System employees and their dependents and plans to add 8,000 additional Valley Health employees and dependents by January 1, 2024.

Peak Health will also enter the consumer market in West Virginia that year with low-cost Medicare Advantage Products and services for self-funded employers.

To learn more about Peak Health, click here.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

Community Health: A Conversation About Lung Cancer Awareness

Lung Cancer awareness

On The Valley Today this afternoon, host Janet Michael had a conversation with Dr. Shalini Reddy, Thoracic Surgeon and Medical Director of Thoracic Surgery at Valley Health’s Winchester Medical Center. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. As part of a community health partnership with Valley Health, the conversation this month focused on lung cancer screenings, the importance of having them BEFORE symptoms appear and the changes to who “qualifies.” Click here to listen to the conversation.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 236,740 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022. Lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer, accounting for more cancer deaths than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. The ACS estimates that more than 4,600 people in Virginia and West Virginia combined will die of lung cancer in 2022.

Dr. Reddy explained that in February 2022, Medicare expanded coverage for lung cancer screening for qualifying beneficiaries. Plus the screening criteria was expanded. Screening is recommended for adults without symptoms who are at high risk for developing lung cancer. Screening eligibility criteria include:

  • Adult smokers and ex-smokers age 50 and older (previously, eligibility began at age 55)
  • Current smokers with a 20-pack year history (previously 30 pack years) of tobacco smoking
  • Former smokers who have quit within the past 15 years

Low dose CT screenings are available at all six Valley Health hospitals. It is one of the easiest screening exams to have, and it takes less than 10 minutes to perform. If criteria for a low dose lung CT screening are met, Medicare and most insurance plans will pay for yearly screenings. Financial assistance may be available for individuals who meet screening criteria but do not have insurance to cover this screening. For more information about lung cancer awareness screenings: valleyhealthlink.com/our-services/imaging/low-dose-lung-ct/

The discussion included information about Valley Health’s Lung Cancer Program. In 2019, Winchester Medical Center was the first hospital in VA to be designated a Care Continuum Center of Excellence for lung cancer care by the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. Valley Health has one of the most comprehensive pulmonary/thoracic programs in the region for the diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of lung cancer. The program’s multidisciplinary team includes specialists in thoracic surgery, radiology, interventional radiology, pathology, pulmonology, interventional pulmonology, medical oncology, radiation oncology and thoracic patient navigation.

Lung Cancer Screening – Valley Health hopes to find lung cancer at its earliest, more treatable stage and work towards eliminating late-stage lung cancer. Low dose CT lung screening is available at all Valley Health hospitals for adults with a history of smoking who are at high risk of lung cancer. The screening program also includes patients who have an incidental lung nodule found during routine or emergency imaging.

Valley Health’s multidisciplinary Lung Nodule Clinic specializes in expediting care for patients with lung nodules or lesions and provides assessment and options for further testing and follow-up. The clinic’s team of pulmonary and thoracic specialists also includes specialists in diagnostic radiology, interventional radiology, radiation oncology and medical oncology.

Advanced Diagnosis – WMC interventional pulmonary specialists use robot-assisted technology combined with endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) for diagnosis and staging in one procedure. This technology is also used to accurately mark lung lesions for more targeted radiation therapy as well as surgery. In 2019, WMC was the first facility in the broader region to acquire Intuitive Surgical’s ION™ Endoluminal System to perform robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. The ION system enables minimally invasive biopsy in difficult-to-reach peripheral areas of the lung. The Valley Health team has completed more than 250 ION cases.

Minimally Invasive Surgery – The hospital’s thoracic surgeons are experienced in minimally invasive video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) and robot-assisted techniques using the da Vinci® XI™ Surgical System. Coupled with remarkable improvements in post-operative pain management and enhanced recovery protocols, these techniques help patients feel better and return home sooner. Dr. Reddy and the Valley Health team have completed 685 robot-assisted thoracic procedures since the surgical robotics program started at WMC six years ago.

Cancer Treatment and Support – Patients who receive treatment for lung cancer at the Valley Health Cancer Center at WMC will have the personal support of a thoracic patient navigator and access to treatment options such as advanced chemotherapy, radiation therapy and interventional radiology if indicated.

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking, and Valley Health provides resources to help. For information: www.valleyhealthlink.com/quitsmoking

Camping for Hunger: A Conversation About Community Health

community health needs assessments valley health

Today’s conversation on The Valley Today with host, Janet Michael about Valley Health’s Community Health Needs Assessments was pretty eye-opening and insightful. It is part of a community health partnership with Valley Health where Janet talks each month with administrators, physicians, and other Valley Health staff about health topics, events, and the community. Click here to listen to the conversation.

Joining Janet today was Jason Craig, Director of Community Health for Valley Health. He highlighted his professional journey which includes direct experience in social service, education, behavioral health, and healthcare.

They discussed the value of Community Health Needs Assessments to identify and address all the needs surrounding community health. Every three years Valley Health conducts Community Health Needs Assessments for each of their hospitals, identifying priority health needs in the communities they serve. They work with health departments, United Way and other nonprofit agencies, local government officials and other key community stakeholders to learn where gaps in services exist and to identify priorities for action. Each hospital then develops implementation strategies for addressing the identified needs. The draft is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks at which time it will be made public. The results from previous CHNAs can be found by clicking here.

Jason gave examples of the many partnerships they’ve formed with nonprofits, Shenandoah University and other organizations across our communities. He talked of programs focused on workforce development, mental health, substance use, homelessness, and food insecurity. He highlighted a recent $1 million grant awarded to Page Memorial Hospital from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Emergency Rural Health Care Grant Program to remediate the impact of COVID-19 and improve health and access to care in Page County.

The pair also spent some time discussing all the social determinants that play a major role in community health. He spoke of a University of Wisconsin study that highlighted social determinants such as access to healthcare, health behaviors (tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol use); physical environment (access to healthy foods, quality of housing, crime and violence); and socioeconomic (education, job status, social support, family support, income, community safety.) He explained that those social determinants can be broken down into five major areas: neighborhood and build environment, health and healthcare, social and community context, education and economic stability.

VH sues insurer to recoup over $11 million in back payments

An email from Valley Health confirms that the Health system is suing an insurer to recoup $11.4 million in back payments.

On Oct.13 Valley Health Systems filed the papers in the City of Winchester Circuit Court against Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, now known as Elevance Health.

The lawsuit includes two counts of Breach of Contract and Violation of the Virginia Ethics and Fairness in Carrier Business Practices Act.

The filing follows two years of  VH quietly attempting to resolve significant reimbursement issues from Anthem Elevance for healthcare services provided.

VH felt that legal action was their only recourse against the insurer to recoup the funds owed.

The action taken by VH will in no way affect the service provided to the communities and patients they serve.

The nonprofit healthcare provider is simply trying to recoup the $11.4 million owed by one of the country’s largest healthcare insurers.

Where Anthem Elevance Health saw $6.1 Billion in profit in 2021 VH continues to struggle, especially with the delay in payment from the insurer.

VH will continue to provide the care that is expected and is deserved to their patients at all of their facilities no matter the out come.

Indiana, Georgia, Maine, Wisconsin as well as Virginia all have filed similar suits against the insurer.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VH’s former CEO and President is honored for his past service

covid-19 vaccine arrival

Valley Health (VH) announced by email that their former President and CEO Mark Merrill has been awarded for his past services.

Sept. 22 the Virginia Hospital Healthcare Association gave Merrill the Distinguished Service Award.

The award is presented to a past or current Chief Executive Officer with a long record of performing outstanding valuable and unique services to the hospital and healthcare community.

After spending 11 of his 35 year long career in healthcare Merrill retired from VH in 2020.

During his 11 years at VH Merrill is credited with many significant achievements such as completing new facilities or renovations at VH’s six hospitals among other accomplishment.

Merrill was recognized by the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber in 2016 at the  Greater Good Awards.

Most recently Merrill continues to serve the commonwealth being appointed to the State’s Transportation Board by then Governor Northam.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.

VH’s President and CEO one of Virginia’s Top 500 people

Winchester based Valley Health (VH) announced their President and CEO Mark Nantz has been named one of Virginia’s top 500 people leading the Commonwealth.

Nantz is one of 13 hospital and health system leaders chosen from the Healthcare, Biotech, Pharmaceutical sectors.

Nantz joined VH in the third month of the pandemic with a focus on a culture of employee and patient safety.

As an advocate for VH caregivers he also secured board approval for two paycheck protection measures.

Nantz’s protection measures came at a time when many health systems were electing to layoff employees.

Nantz was also a leading voice in the debate regarding healthcare employees vaccinations among other accomplishments.

The listing as one of the top 500 comes from the Virginia Business magazine.

Those persons in the top 500 are selected and not nominated by the magazine’s editorial staff after extensive research.

The staff strive to inventory the most powerful and influential leaders and executives in Virginia across 20 major sectors.

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here.