(4:41 PM) Westfield Memorial Hospital Releases Statement After Sudden Death Of Hospital President

WESTFIELD — Westfield Memorial Hospital officials are mourning the recent death of Valerie K. Jackson, former hospital president, who passed away suddenly March 14.

Jackson, who began her tenure at Westfield Memorial Hospital on Aug. 13, 2018. Under her leadership, the hospital saw improvements such as a new 64-slice Perspective CT Scanner, a resurfaced parking lot, an improved security and panic alarm system and a replaced boiler stack. Jackson also showcased the hospital’s repainted emergency entrance exterior and a newly renovated emergency department made possible in large part by grants and gifts from numerous donors to the Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation. In addition, she oversaw the acquisition of two new colonoscopes, a new patient lift system, a portable x-ray unit, a Single Metered Initiated Water Softener, new wheelchairs and an Ultrasound Probe Disinfection Unit.

Most recently, Jackson, representing Westfield Memorial Hospital and Allegheny Health Network, announced the availability of lymphedema services in the hospital’s physical therapy department.

Prior to joining Westfield Memorial Hospital, Jackson served as acting chief operating officer at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. She also served as vice president and executive director of UPMC Cole in Coudersport, Pa., continuing her mission to improve rural health care. She once remarked how she had seen first-hand the devastation of a hospital closing in her parent’s rural community.

“Valarie was a bright and shining light whose smile and engaging personality lit up any room she entered. Her passing has saddened all of us at Westfield Memorial Hospital,” said Helen Baran, chair of the Westfield Memorial Hospital board of directors. “We are grateful for the short time Valarie was at the helm of our community hospital and we will honor her legacy by continuing to fulfill our mission.”

Jackson’s top three priorities were regulatory compliance, upgrading radiology services and keeping patients local rather than transferring them. A firm advocate of advanced technology, she often spoke about adding other high-tech equipment like telemedicine. It was her hope to further reduce the gap in services and ultimately ensure stability for patients so they would not have to travel out of town for needed health care.

Hospital officials said in a news release, “Not one to accept the status quo, Jackson motivated her team to think outside the box. Most recently Jackson remarked how proud she was of her team at the hospital, even noting that WMH associates were not only employees — but also treasured friends. At WMH, the sentiment for the dynamic leader was one of mutual respect,”

Westfield Memorial Hospital is part of the Allegheny Health Network. For those who would like to learn more about the hospital, call 326-4921 or visit www.ahn.org.