Hospital President Talks To Rotary Club
WESTFIELD — During the Nov. 20 meeting of the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club, which was held at the Parkview in Westfield, Club President Elect John “Doc” Hamels introduced Valarie Jackson, Westfield Memorial Hospital president, as the guest presenter.
Jackson, who assumed her role on Aug. 13 of this year, discussed the hospital’s ties to the Allegheny Health Network, the integration of Highmark Health with the facility, changes in the delivery of services, and her priorities for WMH.
WMH was founded in 1942 with funds raised by local Rotarians. The Rotary Club of Westfield-Mayville, which has a long history of supporting the WMH, currently has five of its members serving as volunteers on either the board of directors or the WMH Foundation. Helen Baran serves as the WMH Board of Directors Chairperson; John Hamels is the Vice Chairperson; Tracy Bennett is the Treasurer; and Tom Berkhouse is the Rotary Representative; plus, Dan Smith serves as WMH Foundation Board director. In addition, Rotarian Ed Brooks is employed by WMH as its director of business operations.
“As an exercise physiologist, I never aspired to be a hospital president, but opportunities or ‘other duties as assigned’ allowed me to gain experience and perspective on various facets of healthcare,” Jackson said. “It’s an interesting time to be in healthcare, as those things which worked previously are no longer sustainable. Healthcare is changing rapidly. No two days are ever the same, and there are unique challenges related to rural healthcare.”
Jackson noted that current healthcare philosophy is to provide patient-centered care and value for the services. She has set her three main priorities for WMH as regulatory compliance, re-establishing radiology services, and keeping patients local, rather than transferring them. She noted that an onsite radiologist is needed in order to offer some of the services.
In Dec. 2018 WMH will offer diagnostic mammography during weekdays with improved interpretation times. There are orthopedic and cardiology clinics a couple times per month, and in Jan. 2019 a GI and OB/GYN clinic will start. In addition, Jackson would like to add telemedicine “to further reduce the gap in services and ultimately ensure stability and consistency of services. A specialized videoconferencing system will narrow the gap between travel distance and the accessing of services.”
Though she continues to advocate with AHN for a new WMH building, she pointed to some improvements, such as new signage and lighting, replaced boiler stack, repainted emergency entrance exterior, renovated emergency room, resurfaced parking lot, two new colonoscopes, a portable x-ray unit, and more.
WMH is in the process of improving its security and panic alarm systems.