Friday, October 30, 2009

Response to GameDay Reps and Supporters

To all,

I want to eliminate the rumors that are flying ramped that I am associated with YouCastr and UstreamTV which is 100% false.  For those individuals spreading such rumors, they are very much misinformed.

I posted on VAPREPS Football Region II message board and THE PIBBSTER's PUB of the information that I obtained from Mr. Edwards from FCPS on this FCPS / GameDay partnership agreement.

In response to Mr. Andy Hayes e-mail to me Wednesday, October 28 @ 8:50pm, I do not recall me ever discrediting this organization’s service that they provide. 

-----Original Message-----
From: GamedayMagazine@aol.com [mailto:GamedayMagazine@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 8:50 PM
To: coachmilburn
Subject: Re: Last e-mail

Jeff,

   Why are you hating on us so much? What have we done to you? We've been covering high school sports in Winchester and the rest of Northern Virginia now for years. What have we done to upset you? I've read your posts on VPreps, and just don't understand the animosity. What's up?

Andy


In a message dated 10/21/2009 8:18:17 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
coachmilburn writes:
Can you resend that e-mail that you sent the other week as I did not read attachment.
I went to retrieve it out of my spam folder and it was gone, so the system must have deleted it  after a few days.

Thanks

I am not sure what to make of this “anonymous” comment that came into the THE PIBBSTER’s PUB on Wednesday October 28 @ 8:55pm.  The perception is that this individual has “inside” information on the agreement between the two parties of FCPS and GameDay.

-----Original Message-----
From: Anonymous [mailto:noreply-comment@blogger.com]
Sent: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 8:55 PM
To: coachmilburn
Subject: [THE PIBBSTER's PUB] New comment on WHY are the FCPS Admin's allowing this to happen??....

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "WHY are the FCPS Admin's allowing this to happen??...":

you aren't educated Pibbster....You simply don't know the details of the agreeement and the other ventures the two parties are working on. Misinforming people with incorrect info is going to make you look stupid....

Publish this comment.
Reject this comment.
Moderate comments for this blog.

Posted by Anonymous to THE PIBBSTER's PUB at October 28, 2009 8:55 PM

Also I have much concern about the two brand new users assistantcoach3 and 540baller on VAPREPS.com.  The perception is that they are associated with GameDay as they are new users with their very 1st posts in regards to the information that I shared about the partnership between FCPS and GameDay as it was to inform more schools and businesses.

Frederick County Public School administrators should not been in the business of trying to assist in subsidizing a private businesses operation but should be very concerned about what the administration/athletic directors can do to generate the most revenue possible for each high schools athletic department with the least amount of expenses incurred while doing so. 

With the epic budget constraints that FCPS are facing this year and for years to come, the venture with this private business is not in the best interest of the school athletic departments and even further, the local taxpayers because in the end, the taxpayers will be footing the bill.  With that said, it’s vital that FCPS explore any and all options to keep all of the sponsorship revenue within the local system vs. allowing it to float away over the mountain.

YouCastr and UstreamTV provide FREE opportunities for the high schools to pursue broadcasting both PBP and/or live VIDEO stream for their fans.  These opportunities give FCPS an opportunity to keep 100% of the sponsorship revenue vs. zero dollars with the current partnership.

These opportunities were shared with the three local AD’s at James Wood, Sherando and Millbrook back in August of 2008.  Sherando’s AD was quick to respond, no thanks, we’ll be using GameDay again this year.  There was no response from James Wood and Millbrook’s AD’s.

To close, if FCPS administrators are not the least bit interested in trying to harvest all the sponsorship revenue and are very much satisfied with just getting $2.50 per subscriber, per month, then the YouCastr and UstreamTV options are not for you.  If the FCPS admin’s are not interested in trying to get more children involved within their own high schools with opportunities to pursue a communications program at the college level, then these options are not for you.  Do the math, two-dollars and fifty cents per month, per subscriber is not going to add up to very much extra revenue vs. the opportunity of obtaining 100% of sponsorship revenue sold by each high school athletic department or system wide only if other options are pursued.

The perception is that FCPS admin’s were sold on a sales pitch and mostly likely influenced by someone as it’s evident that not enough in-depth research was conducted on these other options available to make a more informed decision.

To close, the local area of Winchester has a brand new TV3-Winchester station that is an ABC affiliate and the Sports guys of Mike and James do top-notch work! We also have the local newspapers of The Winchester Star and The Northern VA Daily  who continue to provide great stories about our local athletes and sports teams.  We even have am1550SportsTalk radio with Dan Gloster/Tim Mondell  and amWinc1400 that do a great job of providing the Game of the Week for the citizenry.

Basically, its getting crowded over here, so lets not push our own out of the press-box!

[Added @10:35am, I am sorry but I forgot to recognize our own local media outlets that do an outstanding job of providing coverage within our own local community]

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share my perspective on this matter with all.

Respectfully shared from a concerned citizen!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What hospital is suing the citizenry the most ?

To find out what hospital is taking the citizenry to court the most to garnish their wages and even worse case scenario, forcing some individuals into bankruptcy, just click on this link ... This Just In: Berkeley County / West Virginia Record

Click here to review ... "how not-for-profit hospitals are suppose to operate"

Does Valley Health's Wellness & Fitness Center have to carry a bond and/or be registered with VDAC?

THE PIBBSTER's PUB was notified by an unnamed source last Friday that Valley Health's Wellness & Fitness Center does not have bond on file nor is it registered with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The unnamed source stated that Sandy Harrington, an Investigator for VDACS with the Office of Consumer Affairs confirmed that Valley Health is not carrying a bond nor is registered with VDACS.

"These rates indicate they are accepting payment in advance for the contracts, so they would need to have a bond on file with our office." said Harrington


    Single member:
    $648 annual + $85 initial fee
      OR
    $54 per month + $85 initial fee

     Family couple:
    $1,008 + 145 initial fee
      OR
    $84 per month + 145 initial fee


The bond ensures members that if something were to happen to the business, there is a bond held to reimburse those customers who have paid in full and services were not rendered.


"There is an exemption under the Virginia Health Spa Act that states "the term "health spa" shall not include the following: (i) bona fide nonprofit organizations, including, but not limited to, the YMCA, YWCA, or similar organizations whose functions as health spas are only incidental to their overall functions and purposes..."

"If the fitness club is included as part of the nonprofit hospital then they most likely would be exempt under the Act.  If they have been set up as a separate entity under their own corporate structure, then they would most likely be required to register and file surety.  As I said, once I get the information regarding the corporate structure, I will be able to determine how the Act applies to them." said Harrington

[UPATED OCTOBER 29TH @9:15AM]

For further details, please contact:
Sandy Harrington, Investigator
VA Dept of Agriculture & Consumer Svcs
Office of Consumer Affairs
Oliver W. Hill Building
102 Governor Street, Rm LL50
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-225-4601
Fax: 804-225-2666

Financials for WVU-H and Valley Health System via their own websites


You be the judge, which health care system financials are very much transparent and which one is guarding them like it's Fort Knox?

Valley Health Systems


West Virginia University Hospitals

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A question for Dr. Wade : The Winchester Star, Letters to Editor

A question for Dr. Wade

I read with great interest the letter submitted by Dr. Karen Wade (Your Views, Oct. 17). I’m sure that all of her patients were already aware that she feels the single biggest problem with our system is the epidemic of honest, overworked, underpaid, and under-worshipped physicians being driven mercilessly into bankruptcy by legions of greed-driven ingrates.

Who hasn’t seen the sad spectacle of a physician trying to selflessly improve the lives of his or her patients only to be financially ruined by these hyper-litigious rubes. If only once these same patients could see what it is like to lose everything they’ve worked for, if only they knew the horror of being sued! It is a shame that any physician should have to worry about being hauled into court for maiming or killing the occasional patient.

I’m sure the insurance industry deplores having to charge Dr. Wade and her colleagues such astronomical malpractice premiums, I know they are lying awake at night thinking of ways to absolve our physicians of these onerous fees.

I do have one question for Dr. Wade: Which line is longest: the physicians litigated into abject poverty and shame, the Canadian refugees clogging our hospital corridors around the clock seeking quality care, or the working under-or uninsured Americans sued into real bankruptcy and foreclosure by their own providers or hospitals?

If Dr. Wade defers, perhaps a representative from WMC will answer it.

Dwight Sowell
Stephens City
October 27, 2009



Do not be surprised Mr. Dwight Sowell if you do not receive an answer from anyone within the walls of the Valley Health System.



First step is . . . tort reform

I was very pleased to see The Washington Post article on the Mayo Clinic in the Oct. 5 Star. It was the perfect rebuttal to Carl Ekberg’s letter, “A Mayo clinic in Winchester?” published Sept. 28.

There are clearly many factors besides the salaried status of its physicians which contribute to the excellent reputation of the Mayo Clinic. In the United States at the present time, a large number of physicians are salaried employees. The fees for their services, however, are still paid by insurance companies, and their employers (hospitals, large practices, etc.) expect them to generate enough income to justify those salaries.

One cannot legitimately compare outcomes (life expectancy and infant mortality) in the United States to those of small countries with populations that are much less socially and ethnically diverse. Making every physician in the United States a salaried government employee would not solve the problems of the obesity epidemic, teen pregnancy, or drug abuse.

The first step in reducing the cost of medical care in this country should be tort reform. Imagine how much fees could be reduced if each physician did not have to generate an extra $50,000 to $100,000 or more in income each year just to cover the cost of malpractice insurance. There would also be a decrease in “unnecessary” tests and treatments ordered by physicians practicing “defensive medicine” out of fear of lawsuits.

We should also put the control of health-care spending back in the hands of patients. We should encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts to pay for routine care, and reserve insurance (at much lower premiums than currently charged) for major illness or hospitalization. People will be much more prudent in their health-care choices if they feel they are spending their own money rather than the insurance company’s.

DR. KAREN E. WADE
Winchester 

October 17, 2009


A Mayo Clinic in Winchester?

Karen Wade's letter, “In the interest of fairness” (Your Views, Sept. 16), concerning physicians’ incomes was cute, sarcastic, and totally uninformative.

So here’s bit of information to raise the level of the discussion: In the United States, where fee-for-service (“cowboy capitalism” in the words of David Ignatius) is the usual practice, people live less long and more babies die within the first year of life than in any other modern industrialized country in the world.

In countries where physicians are on salaries (generous salaries), people live longer and fewer babies die. Moreover, within the United States, the best health care is provided at institutions (like the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic) where physicians are salaried.

Wouldn’t it be salutary if Valley Health Care created a clinic here in Winchester (modeled on Mayo and Cleveland) where physicians would be on salaries, generous salaries?

Carl J. Ekberg
Winchester
September 28, 2009





In the interest of fairness

As a practicing Ob/Gyn physician, I think that Jim Silvester’s suggestion (Open Forum, Sept. 5) to cap doctors’ incomes at $150,000 per year is great, provided that, in the interest of fairness and equality, we apply the same cap to all other professions, including attorneys, hospital administrators, legislators, insurance company (and other) CEOs, talk-show hosts, entertainers, athletes, etc.

Of course, this may somewhat limit the pool of wealthy people to tax, so we might have to tax the not-so-wealthy a bit more. And while we’re at it, could we please pass a law requiring all babies to be born between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday?

Dr. Karen E. Wade
Winchester
September 16, 2009



Health-care folly
Forget the hogwash, it’s time to provide health care to all
Jim Silvester
September 5, 2009

This author has traveled widely with academic colleagues in the United Kingdom and has friends and business associates who call their home Canada.

Upon query about their national health-care systems, not one raised a voice of significant dissatisfaction, and none would agree to substitute their health system for that offered here in America.

Why does the United States spend $2.6 trillion annually on health care, 16 percent of its GDP, and only rank 37th by the World Health Organization (WHO) in terms of quality of health care?

America spends more on health per person than any country by twofold, yet it is rated between Costa Rica and Slovenia in quality of care accordingly to the WHO.

Back in time, families were afforded medical insurance provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which was run as a nonprofit conglomerate managed by medical professionals. The other insurance players at the time followed the BC/BS model.

The price was uniform and reasonable, and there were no pre-existing condition exclusions and the local hospitals and some Good Samaritan doctors would take care of the poor.

In the 1980s, the medical and insurance industries, through intense lobbying efforts in Washington and the state capitols, pushed through “individualized underwriting” and “deregulation” of the industries.

“Pre-existing condition” exclusions were added to insurance contracts, and people were no longer premium-rated by demographic group but stood alone. Many lost insurance coverage and were denied access to health care, as is the case today.

Some insurers spend millions on analyzing how to reject claims or slow the payment process and deny claims because of small errors on initial applications after years of paying premiums.

Doctors and insurance agents disappeared from the middle-class neighborhoods and ended up in huge palatial estates that would make a southern plantation owner blush, or McMansions sitting on huge tracts where homing pigeons would be needed to communicate with the nearest neighbors if it weren’t for telephones.

And going to the hospital or doctor nowadays is a lesson in Economics 101. “Where’s the insurance card or checkbook” is the new greeting even before the temperature or pulse is taken.

Republican and conservative credentials of this author notwithstanding, when it comes to national health care and 54 million uninsured citizens, labels need to be dropped.

People often complain without offering solutions. As a trained economist and practicing entrepreneur, this author offers the following humble opinions as to a health care fix:

* Doctors’ income should be capped at $150,000 per year.
* Cap tort settlements to stop unfair jury awards and contain malpractice insurance costs.
* Forgive medical school tuition pro-rated based on length of service.
* All pre-existing conditions covered.
* All insurance is portable with job loss or change.
* All medical insurance business should be private but non-profit.
* All hospitals and clinics should be nonprofit, and accept payments as outlined by a non-governmental insurance exchange.
* All citizens are covered with government subsidies for the poor, unemployed, and underprivileged.

The day of rising insurance premiums, cherry-picking patients, running away from health claims, not covering the poor with adequate care, while the few who control the process become increasingly fat and wealthy must end.

Simply put, the American people are being ripped off.

Before the MDs jump off Old Rag Mountain or drink tainted Kool-Aid at the mere mention of those nasty words, “insurance reform,” please take note that their esteemed and practical input is needed on this important issue.

Stop the “take it slow” or “be patient” hogwash as this theme doesn’t hold water since the debate started in the Truman years, and almost 1 in 6 Americans are without health care and increasing.

And the scare tactics must stop. The Canadian and British health systems do not employ death panels or rationing of health care anymore than does the U.S. model. American health insurers routinely cut off benefits to terminal patients, kick them out of the hospital, and send them “home to die.” And waiting six to eight weeks to see a doctor for 10 minutes, as is common here, is just another form of “rationing,” but no one dare say it.

The political extremists must stop the folly, get down to business, and do what all other modern western countries do — provide adequate, affordable health care for all of its citizens.

Jim Silvester, a resident of Frederick County, is a professional business journalist.


Source : The Winchester Star

Sunday, October 25, 2009

SU Football, what must change on the offensive side to get a WIN ?

Another very, very disappointing loss by the score of 19 to 13 last night to Ferrum College.

Coach Brock's Defense was huge all night and gave the team a chance to stay in the game.  The kids played hard.

What changes need to take place for the offense to put more points on the board to get much needed wins for the entire community of Shenandoah University?

SU was won just 10 out of the last 47 games.

2009: 1-6
2008: 3-7
2007: 2-8
2006: 2-8
2005: 2-8

Sorry folks, but the woulda, shoulda, coulda stuff needs to stop being said.  The W's are not coming, something must change for the offense to get more points on the board!  Coach Brock's defense is doing ALL they can do.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

WHY are the FCPS Admin's allowing this to happen???

Watch Local High School Games on the Web 
If you can't make it to the big game -- just catch it online.


Frederick County Public Schools is partnering up with www.GamedayMagazine.com to stream high school athletic events live on the internet.

The website offers play-by-play audio and video coverage of Sherando, James Wood and Millbrook High School football, basketball and baseball games.

Subscribers can watch and listen from anywhere in the world.

School officials still encourage fans to attend games, but say this is a good alternative if they can't make it.

"It's good for parents who aren't able to get to the game or are maybe traveling when the games take place, and for family members who live out of town. A lot of our student-athletes have relatives who live out of town and can't make it to the game, this gives them the opportunity with just a few clicks of the mouse to see their relative performing on the athletic field," said Steve Edwards, director of communications for Frederick County Public Schools.

The fees range from $9.99 for a 3-day pass to $119.99 for a year-long pass. If you sign up using your school's coupon code, they will get a portion of the proceeds.

The schools' coupon codes are as follows.

Millbrook Pioneers
Annual: 417D0BC894
Monthly: F9E097BE02

Sherando Warriors:
Annual: ADC106F7E8
Monthly: 086B1388A0

James Wood Colonels
Annual: 1287
Monthly: 768D

Source: TV3-Winchester


Everyone's first reaction should be, WHY are the Frederick County Public School Administrators allowing this extra revenue to float out of the school system is beyond me?  WHY allow an outside group from over the mountain to make money off the school system and local businesses?  Are not the local school systems struggling with their respective budgets?  Are middle school sports in danger of being extinct?  Any and all extra revenue could help foster the middle school sports.  WHY didn't the FCPS Admin's research this more thoroughly to explore other options that would allow more children to get more involved with an opportunity to get a jump-start on a communications degree while in high school?  WHY not collect ALL of the potential revenue that can be harvested through each respective high school broadcasting any event, just not sports alone at your own discretion.  WHY not OPEN it up to the debate club and other clubs/groups within the school system?  The technology is already in place, as one would be very surprised that each school did not have the following: laptop, high-speed internet access, video camera and headset.  Well, maybe the USB headset would have to be purchased but I am confident those other key ingredients are already in place.

These other opportunities that FCPS need to explore: YouCastr that is free to schools to use and viewership rates can be determined by each respective school administrators and UstreamTV is 100% free.

Just because Loudoun County Public School is using GameDayMagazine, does that dictate Frederick County Public Schools or Winchester Public County Schools need to follow suit?  If LCPS admin's jump in the middle of the road of flowing traffic, are the local school administrators going to the do the same?  One would sure hope not.  Seriously, is not everyone getting tired of hearing that we need to be competitive with Loudoun County.  The taxes are getting high enough.  We do live in America, correct?   It’s the land of the free where we have choices to make each and every day.  Ok, a choice that local educators have to make, to travel over the mountain to Loudoun County or not.  For those who made a decision to leave the local system, good luck and someone else will fill the vacated position and will be very much qualified to do so.

The YouCastr and UstreamTV suggestions were shared with the local Athletic Directors back during early fall of 2008 with no interest.

Questions:

- Are you locked into a contract with GameDay?  If so, then that should have been a red flag itself.

- How much of the $9.99 10-day and $119.99 annual membership actually goes to the school?  It's very clearly stated that if school codes are not entered, then the school will NOT get their portion, whatever that is.

- How much of a local business sponsorship will actually go to the school?  



Local businesses need to BE AWARE of GameDayMagazine solicitors coming knocking on your door and please question them and get in writing, how much of your money is actually going to the school.   Better yet, here’s an idea for the local businesses, IF you want to help support a respective high school, why not just write  out a check to them directly vs. allowing an outside group over the mountain make money off you and the school.

Bottom-line, the perception is that the FCPS administrators were sold on a sales pitch.


On the web:
www.YouCastr.com
www.Ustream.TV

Fact or Fiction? Shenandoah University getting a NEW baseball facility?

There has been many conversations that have occurred as a result of Shenandoah University's new president's statements made in front of the baseball team that they will have a new baseball facility within the next two years at last year's team picnic.  This picnic was hosted at the president's residence before the team ventured off to the DIII World Series tournament in Appleton, WI last May.

With that said, within the next two-years means a new baseball facility somewhere by the spring of 2011.

That is a very courageous statement to be made by Dr. Fitzsimmons, so something must be in the works for it to be revealed in front of the entire members of the baseball program.

Does anyone have any idea where this new facility will be constructed or does Shenandoah University have plans to make a substantial investment into the renovation at Bridgeforth Field?

In last week's article in the Winchester Star, Shenandoah University was not listed as a contributor with the current renovations happening with the remodeling work on the press-box along with the dugouts.  The work is being completed by students of Handley High School’s carpentry class which is headed by Mr. Jimmy Robertson.

To close ... Fact or fiction: SU Baseball program had to purchase their own Regional Championship rings. [FACT]


For anyone who might have any inside information, feel free to leave a comment as "anonymous" are welcomed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Valley Health / WVU-H discord on War Mem'l Hospital will be resolved in late January 2010?

Hearing focused on size & services of new hospital
by Kate Shunney - 10/21/2009
The Morgan Messenger

Officials from Valley Health Systems and WVU Hospitals rolled out their competing visions of a new War Memorial Hospital when they and their lawyers appeared before the state’s Health Care Authority in Charleston last Tuesday.

That body will determine if Morgan County can sell its license to operate War Memorial Hospital to Valley Health, and if Valley Health can proceed with their plans to build a new $30 million hospital in Berkeley Springs.

Their decision is expected in January 2010 at the earliest.

All those involved in last week’s public hearing told The Morgan Messenger they felt the process was fair and thorough, and each of the participants got a chance to raise their key issues before the health care board.

Hearing was “routine”

Tom Jones, president and CEO of West Virginia United Health Systems, said the certificate of need hearing was “routine” and short compared to some he has attended.

His testimony on behalf of WVU Hospitals focused on three main issues: the size of the proposed hospital, the financial viability of the facility and the fairness of the bidding process.

“Although we had concerns about the certificate of need that was presented by Valley Health, we all agreed there is a need for a new hospital,” Jones said on Monday.

“The important thing is to recognize the needs of Morgan County for a hospital and, one way or another, get to that end,” he said.

If the current proposal doesn’t get the okay from the Health Care Authority, Jones said West Virginia University Hospitals would be interested in making a hospital proposal to Morgan County officials.

“If there was a request for proposal that was put out that would allow us to respond in a way that was appropriate, we’d do that,” Jones said.

He emphasized that his company has already spent $80,000 and many man-hours studying Morgan County’s health needs and drafting proposals for a new War Memorial Hospital.

“If the decision goes the other way, we’ll get on with life,” Jones said.

Despite the fact that the public hearing was prompted by Jefferson Memorial Hospital and City Hospital claiming status as “affected parties” in War Memorial’s future plans, officials from those hospitals didn’t testify at the October 6 hearing.

Jones is the head of the health care system that oversees West Virginia University’s hospitals in Fairmont, Morgantown, Martinsburg and Jefferson County.

No new issues

War Memorial Hospital President Neil McLaughlin said questions raised at the hearing were ones he has anticipated.

“We’ve been so over and under this project, it would have been difficult to come up with a question we didn’t expect,” he said.

McLaughlin felt there were three major disagreements about a hospital plan.

He said West Virginia University Hospitals questioned the need for 25 beds instead of 15 beds. He said they argued a new hospital would need only one, not two operating rooms as planned. WVU Hospitals officials also questioned the viability of having a nursing home in the new facility.

McLaughlin agreed that the nursing home component of the hospital would not be the most profitable part of the facility, but said it is key to the mission of War Memorial Hospital.

“People wouldn’t be waiting on a waiting list for the nursing home except this is where people want to be if they have to be in a nursing home,” he said.

McLaughlin said downsizing the hospital to 15 beds would be like building a two-bedroom home for a family with twins on the way.

“We’d have to really consider whether moving into a 15-bed facility would work, whether it’s a project we’d be willing to finance and build,” he said.

In order for War Memorial Hospital to retain its legal status as a critical access hospital, a new facility would have to maintain 75% of the current services, retain 75% of its employees and serve 75% of its current clients, said McLaughlin.

Cutting rooms, hospital size or doing away with the nursing home component would jeopardize that critical access status, he said.

McLaughlin said WVU Hospitals conceded that Morgan County needs a new hospital, but they seemed to suggest they could offer a better alternative to the Valley Health proposal already accepted by the Morgan County Commissioners.

In the end, the Health Care Authority must evaluate Valley Health’s plans on two key features — whether it meets the State Health Plan and is financially feasible, McLaughlin said.

Support was impressive

County Commission President Brenda Hutchinson, who also testified at the hearing, said officials there were impressed by the show of support for a new War Memorial Hospital.

“I think it went very well. I have confidence they’ll weigh the evidence and make a fair decision,” she said of the Health Care Authority.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Will Valley Health become a monopoly similar to Carilion of the Roanoke Valley

To finally bring a conclusion to this informative mission after what I have learned of what is going on down in the Roanoke Valley with Carilion, one can easily develop a similar perception of what is taking place with the rapid growth of Valley Health in the Shenandoah Valley/surrounding regional area.  That why it’s important that the citizenry of the Shenandoah Valley be more informed on Valley Health.


It’s well known that Valley Health’s mission is to have a large presence in the regional area.  Valley Health has not hidden that fact with the $178,000,000 Winchester campus expansion, while continuing to purchase much smaller regional hospitals that appear to have a standard price tag of $30 million for a new facility.


Valley Health’s plan to build a new $30 million hospital in Morgan County, WV  to replace War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs is currently getting resistance from West Virginia University Hospital officials.


WVUH-East President Albert Pilkington has a differing opinion of the events. He has been in this position since January 2009.

"We asked for the hearing because we had serious concerns about the scope of the project, and who put the bid package together," he said. "We felt the size hospital asked for in the bidding package did not fit with the state health plan or our own analysis, and we had additional questions whether we could bid on a project or specs that were designed by an unknown party."

Pilkington said WVUH-East wants to ensure a fair and independent bidding process.



WVU-H East offers more than ‘bus stop’
By Albert Pilkington III, president and CEO, WVU Hospitals-East, Martinsburg
Valley Health has spent a lot of money and time to develop a PR campaign aimed at discrediting our interest in providing health care for the citizens of Morgan County. Beyond all the rhetoric, I ask you to simply consider one basic concept. Do you want a hospital in Berkeley Springs or a medical bus stop for Valley Health?

Ultimately, that is the real question. Our approach will be the same as it has been in Jefferson County in that we believe in building and growing services within the community as opposed to the Valley Health model of using small hospitals as a feeding system for the big hospital in Winchester, Va.

If you are satisfied with driving to Winchester for the majority of your medical needs as if Berkeley Springs were a suburb of Winchester, then we are not your best choice. On the other hand, if you are interested in the development of your own unique community with services provided locally, then that is the approach we offer for health care.

Truly, beyond all the PR and rhetoric, this is the only real question at hand as both companies will give you a new building.




Below are other articles that have appeared in the Martinsburg Journal over the last month and half and I do not recall reading anything about this protest in any of our local media outlets: The Winchester Star, TV3-Winchester or the NVDaily.

(Correction 10/20/09, found NVD article: WV hospital project challenged, WVU-East puts brakes on plans for New War Memorial),
(Correction 10/21/09, found WincStar article: Valley Health's plans for aging WV hospital to get hearing)



Hospital hearing set for Oct. 6
By Erienne Greene, Journal Staff Writer
Posted September 27, 2009
http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/525721.html

 
Approval of hospital plans urged
A resolution is passed by Morgan panel
POSTED: September 25, 2009

http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/525622.html

 

Delay in hospital construction upsets commissioners
By Tricia Lynn Strader / Special to The Journal
POSTED: September 21, 2009

http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/525422.html

 
War Memorial construction delayed
WVU Hospitals files for hearing before panel
By Tricia Lynn Strader, Special to The Journal
POSTED: September 20, 2009
http://www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/525387.html



Another grave concern is “The Lucrative Life of a Nonprofit Hospital” which was a feature by Wall Street Journal blog reporter Jacob Goldstein on August 28, 2008.  Valley Health’s “charges” appear to be competitive at the present moment, but for how long?

“The Lucrative Life of a Nonprofit Hospital”
Jacob Goldstein, WSJ blogger
August 28, 2008
http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/08/28/the-lucrative-life-of-a-nonprofit-hospital/


ROANOKE, Va. -- In 1989, the U.S. Department of Justice tried but failed to prevent a merger between nonprofit Carilion Health System and this former railroad town's other hospital. The merger, it warned in an unsuccessful antitrust lawsuit, would create a monopoly over medical care in the area.

Nearly two decades later, the cost of health care in the Roanoke Valley -- a region in southwestern Virginia with a population of 300,000 -- is soaring. Health-insurance rates in Roanoke have gone from being the lowest in the state to the highest.

Nonprofit medical centers are big business these days. Carilion Health System, in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley, had profits of more than $100 million last year, Carilion is Roanoke’s dominant health-care player, and it charges high prices for some procedures — $4,727 for a colonoscopy, which is four to 10 times what a local endoscopy center charges, the article says. The area now has some of the highest health-insurance costs in the state.

Critics say big medical centers like Carilion use near-monopoly power to charge high prices; Carilion says it needs to charge more for some procedures to subsidize other parts of its business, such as care for the uninsured. And the hospital says an HCA-owned hospital in a nearby town offers competition.

Carilion has recently started buying up local medical practices in an effort to move to a multispecialty-clinic model. The hospital CEO says this arrangement will cut down on fragmentation and improve care.

But the move has alienated hundreds of local docs, who circulated a petition and launched a Web site. Those who haven’t sold their practices to the hospital say they’ve seen their referrals plummet.



This "Nonprofit Hospitals Flex Pricing Power" is a MUST read and pay attention the epic profit increases from 2003 through 2007.  Do you remember reading about Valley Health's epic increase from 2001 through 2005?  Yes, it was an eye popping 383% increase for that time period as exact figures for 2006, 2007 and now upcoming 2008 has been an unsuccessful challenge to obtain.
Nonprofit Hospitals Flex Pricing Power
In Roanoke, VA, Carilion’s Fees Exceed Those of Competitors;
The $4,727 Colonoscopy
Thursday, August 28, 2008
http://webreprints.djreprints.com/2017630549095.pdf


Since Valley Health is a not-for-profit, why are not their financial records readily available for public inspection.  Makes you wonder, is Valley Health is trying to hide something?  For example, review Lehigh Valley out of Allentown, PA as their financials are very much unguarded for the public to review:

IRS Form 990:
http://www.lvhn.org/downloads/lvhfinal07.pdf

Financials and Annual Reports:

http://www.lvhn.org/aboutus/Annual_Report_Archive/2008_Report_to_the_Community/2008 Financial_and_Operational_Report%7C4523


 

Below is a very informative video of Frank Cotter speaking to Citizens for Responsible Health-care of the Roanoke Valley speaking out against Carilion.




We are all grateful that Valley Health provides quality care for our regional area but everyone should have much concern about their growth to become the regional authoritarian of medical care and hope more individuals within the regional area will be keeping an eye on them while asking reasonable questions.


In closing, let’s all hope that Valley Health of the Shenandoah Valley doesn’t become a monopoly that is the perception of what Carilion has done within the Roanoke Valley.

NONPROFIT PARADOX : Valley Health

Valley Health brings in millions of dollars tax-free,
but it also gives millions away

    By Jason Kane
    The Winchester Star
    January 12, 2009


    Winchester — Free medical care for some area residents costs big bucks for health-care systems such as Valley Health.

    Tens of millions of dollars, in fact, are given away each year by the nonprofit organization.

    “Our mission is to help the entire community, regardless of ability to pay,” said Michael Halseth, president and chief executive officer of the Winchester-based system that operates five hospitals in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

    But with generous tax breaks from the city, state, and federal governments, many critics say nonprofit hospitals are receiving a terrific deal without providing enough give-backs to the communities they serve.

    In 2007 — the last year for which data were available — Valley Health spent more than $56 million on charity, bad debt, and uncompensated care, including community education, health screenings, and similar projects.

    Of that, $18.9 million went toward assisting those who couldn’t afford to pay for health services, $10.8 million was absorbed as a loss for caring for Medicaid patients, and $17.5 went toward bad-debt write-offs.

    “We try to work with folks,” said Craig Lewis, the organization’s chief financial officer. “Especially if people are going through struggling times, as they are now with the economy.”

    In exchange for their goodwill, nonprofit hospitals escape the vast majority of state and local income, property, and sales taxes — in addition to federal taxes. That can add up to hefty savings in growing markets such as Winchester.

    At the moment, no federal guidelines specify the percentage of charity care nonprofit hospitals must provide to their communities.

    Institutions such as Winchester Medical Center are simply expected to care for those who walk through their doors without the ability to pay.

    In effect, Valley Health will provide patients with free service — even complicated procedures such as open-heart surgery — if their income falls below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For a family of four, that’s roughly $40,000 per year.

    For individuals whose incomes fall between 201 and 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, the system offers discounts to its normal fees on a sliding scale.

    Lewis said this policy is fairly generous compared to other hospitals in the state. WMC ranks 14th out of 83 Virginia hospitals in the amount of charity dollars it provides. That number would be higher if the area had as many low-income families as central Richmond, for example, he said.

    “We could have a more liberal policy of writing off bills but not have as much charity care — percentage-wise — as other hospitals, simply because the demographics of our community don’t allow us the opportunity to take care of more people for free,” Lewis said.


    Fear of monopoly



    Between 2001 and 2006, the combined net income of the 50 largest nonprofit hospitals jumped nearly eight-fold — to $4.27 billion — according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the American Hospital Directory.

    Under federal law, the revenues that remain at the end of a year for a nonprofit organization must be funneled back into the company to bolster programs, equipment, and facilities.

    Within Valley Health, that money rarely goes toward bringing down costs for patients, Halseth said.

    “We’ve already kept our prices within the lowest quartile in Virginia for years and years,” he said. “A lot of times we’re in the lowest 10 percent.”

    Rate increases over the past several years have been between 3 and 5 percent — set to keep pace with inflation.

    The primary concern that some people have with nonprofit regional systems such as Valley Health is that their tax breaks will allow them to purchase every health facility in the area, creating a monopoly and later driving up prices.

    Last year alone, the company acquired hospitals in Luray and Romney and Berkeley Springs in West Virginia.

    The organization now includes Winchester Medical Center, Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock, Page Memorial Hospital in Luray, and Hampshire Memorial Hospital in Romney. It is awaiting permission from West Virginia authorities before officially beginning to operate War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs.

    Valley Health also oversees the Winchester Rehabilitation Center; Valley Home Care of Winchester, Front Royal, and Woodstock; Urgent Care of Winchester; Quick Care of Stephens City; and Valley Pharmacy of Winchester.

    “I would say that fear [of monopoly prices] simply hasn’t been borne out in our history,” Lewis said. “Yes, it’s nice having our regional hospital and system base, but I don’t see us using it in an adverse way for the community.”


    A charge for reform



    Statewide, the amount of community benefit provided by Virginia’s tax-exempt hospitals exceeded the value of the exemptions by more than $195 million, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

    But that number can be deceptive.

    “A lot of hospital systems across the country were putting in everything but the kitchen sink,” Lewis said.

    In September, the Government Accountability Office released a report concluding that significant variation existed in the types of activities nonprofit hospitals define as community benefit, as well as the ways hospitals measure the costs of these activities.

    Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has been spearheading a charge for reform, recently saying: “As long as there’s such uncertainty and inconsistency in the definition of community benefit, it’ll be impossible to gauge whether the public is getting a fair return for the billions of tax dollars that tax-exempt hospitals don’t pay.”

    This year, the Internal Revenue Service rolled out new 990 reporting forms for nonprofit hospitals that require them to report costs rather than charges, and restrict them from qualifying bad debt and Medicare shortfalls in their definition of community benefit.

    Grassley seemed partially satisfied, but pledged to continue pushing for minimum levels of charity care.

    “While the new IRS Form 990 will help, Congress may need to fill in the blanks since hospitals still get to choose how they calculate their costs,” he said.

    Part of Grassley’s worry is that hospitals — especially the nonprofit ones, due to their tax exemption — generate hundreds of millions of dollars and too often use their surplus funds unwisely.


    Where the money goes



    For 2009, Valley Health expects the retail price (gross revenue) of all of its services to be $1.1 billion.

    After subtracting insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and charity care, it should earn a net revenue of $693 million, with expenses of $659 million.

    That leaves many wondering what Valley Health officials do with the $34 million left over.

    The company invests a portion of its surplus in stocks, bonds, and other assets.

    “We try to be good stewards of the money,” Lewis said. “We try to make sure we have a balanced portfolio, to diversify risks and provide optimal returns [often used for building campaigns].”

    A portion of the money is used to finance new facilities, such as the $17.1 million Wellness and Fitness Center on WMC’s Amherst Street campus or the upcoming $178 campus expansion, which will nearly double the size of the flagship hospital.

    Some funds go back into programs to provide flu shots, informational seminars, or resources for free medical clinics throughout the area.

    Lisa Zerull, a registered nurse who has been working for Valley Health for 19 years, helped the company to devise a number of successful community-based programs.

    Her ideas “don’t generate revenue but do generate community support,” she said.

    In 1993, for instance, Zerull helped to establish a group of nurses who visit the homes of frequent hospital visitors to help them with tasks such as medicine compliance, dietary changes, and exercise.

    By preventing health problems before they occurred, the hospital saved money on the patients’ monthly trips to the emergency room.

    “The program is still in existence, which speaks to its success,” Zerull said.

    And then there are the ventures which have been raising eyebrows.

    Among them: Valley Health recently opened ShenSpa — a branch of Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock that offers manicures, pedicures, waxing, and facials.

    Or the new Wellness Center. A number of Winchester gyms lodged complaints with city officials before the center opened, saying Valley Health’s nonprofit status gives the facility an unfair advantage.

    In turn, local leaders asked Valley Health to pay property taxes on the facility, Lewis said.

    Still, officials say the spa, the gym, and other such ventures are all approved by the company’s board of volunteer community leaders — another requirement of a nonprofit hospital.

    “Our board is always sensitive to our charity care policies, assuring that we’re being as fair to our communities as we can possibly be,” Halseth said.

    Even if management is not thinking exclusively about consumer benefit — whether regarding charity care or the impact of a spa within a nonprofit business structure — Halseth said, “I assure you our boards are. And it’s healthy for us to have a board not just looking out for us.”

    

    — Contact Jason Kane at  jkane@winchesterstar.com

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Valley Health has made epic strides in Excess of Revenue (Profits) since 2001




Wanted to share so the local community can be more informed on Valley Health's financial success while providing quality care to the entire regional community. 

There was an editorial featured in The Winchester Star (copy is at the end of this post) on January  17, 2009 about a woman's husband stay in the hospital at Winchester Medical Center. Mrs. Luttrell's perception is the nurses at Valley Health are understaffed along with being under-compensated.

While trying to get a better grasp on Valley Health's excess of revenue (profits) since 2001.  The article below gives highlights of the 383% increase ($45.3million) excess of revenue (profits)  for The Winchester Medical Center from 2001 to 2005. Still having much difficulty in obtaining these exact figures for years 2006, 2007 and 2008 for the entire organization of VHS.  The VHS structure has been one of the most difficult that we've ever seen in trying to get the overall organization excess of revenue (profits) for years 2001 to the present day as we have not been anywhere close of being successful in accomplishing such task but our sources within the VHS network are working hard for The Pibbster's Pub to keep the citizenry informed.

Several e-mail requests to Valley Health officials over the last month have went unanswered as of today, October 15, 2009.   The statement from the "NONPROFIT PARADOX" article from the Winchester Star, January 10, 2009 stated the following about their conservative projections for 2009:

For 2009, Valley Health expects the retail price (gross revenue) of all of its services to be $1.1 billion.

After subtracting insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and charity care, it should earn a net revenue of $693 million, with expenses of $659 million.

That leaves many wondering what Valley Health officials do with the $34 million left over. 



For a few Virginia facilities alone, please review these impressive profits below for FY-2007.  These numbers were obtained from Virginia Health Information, Numbers to Knowledge:



Excess of Revenue




$4,681,417
Warren Mem'l
FY-12/31/07
$66,617,963
Winc Med'l Ctr
FY-12/31/07
$1,673,924
Surgi-Center
FY-12/31/07
$1,933,193
Shenandoah Mem'l
FY-12/31/07
$332,680
Page Mem'l
FY-9/30/07






$75,239,177
Total Excess of Revenue (Profits) for 2007





*****************************************************************************


Winchester Medical Center Has Very Healthy Finances
Quad - State Business Journal
October 1, 2006
By Peter Heerwager
(brief highlights of the article)



Winchester Medical Center has grown its profits-known as excess revenues over expenses in the non-profit world of health care-from $11.8 million in 2001 to $57.1 million in 2005.

To put it in perspective, the hospital's 2005 profits were more than twice those of the region's six other hospitals taken together, excluding Jefferson Memorial Hospital, which lost money last year (see chart on page 15).

And Winchester Medical Center's operating margin of 14.9% was considerably higher than other hospital in the region.


*****************************************************************************


Valley Health's extensive regional community operation is detailed as follows as described in the pamphlet that Valley Health mailed out in the fall of 2008 titled, "The Big Picture - 2007 Benefit to the Community":



Valley Health Hospitals:
-    Winchester, VA ( Winchester Medical Center )
-    Front Royal, VA ( Warren Memorial Hospital )
-    Romney, WV ( Hampshire Memorial Hospital )
-    Woodstock, VA ( Shenandoah Memorial Hospital )

Valley Health Premier Affiliate Hospitals:
-    Petersburg, WV ( Grant Memorial Hospital )
-    Luray, VA ( Page Memorial Hospital )
-    Keyser, WV ( Potomac Valley Hospital )

Valley Health Managed Hospital:
-    Berkeley Springs, WV ( War Memorial Hospital )
     (VH just announced $2.75million purchase 12/15/08)

Valley Health other revenue generating services:

-    Winchester, VA ( Surgi-Center of Winchester )
-    Winchester, VA ( Urgent Care Center )
-    Martinsburg, WV ( Gateway Home Care )
-    Winchester, VA ( Valley Home Care )
-    Front Royal, VA ( Valley Home Care )
-    Woodstock, VA ( Valley Home Care )
-    Winchester, VA ( Valley Pharmacy )
-    Winchester, VA ( Valley Medical Transport )
-    Keyser, WV ( Valley Medical Transport )
-    Martinsburg, WV ( Valley Medical Transport )
-    Petersburg, WV ( Valley Medical Transport )
-    Cumberland, MD ( Valley Medical Transport )
-    Hagerstown, MD ( Mid-Maryland Medical Transport )
-    Front Royal, VA ( Lynn Care Center )
-    Stephens City, VA ( Quick Care )
-    Woodstock, VA ( ShenSpa )
-    Winchester, VA ( Piedmont Medical Laboratory )
-    Winchester, VA ( Wellspring )
-    Winchester, VA ( Wellness & Fitness Center )
-    Winchester, VA ( Winchester Imaging Center )
-    Winchester, VA ( Winchester Rehabilitation Center )


Valley Health's Regional city/town location of facilities as of fall 2008:

























*****************************************************************************



Short of nurses


I am writing this letter concerning the Jan. 10 article in The Star headlined “Nonprofit paradox.” I understand the “pie” Valley Health community benefit. I understand the hospital is a nonprofit hospital. But the Winchester Medical Center is very short of nurses.

Several times when my husband has been a patient, I overhear in the hallways, “We are short this shift.” There has been one nurse at a time on a floor to handle 12 rooms. That is one reason, as a care-giver, I stay 24/7.

The point I am getting to is the CEO and administrators whose salaries were posted in the paper could take a lesser pay and see that the money goes to the nursing income. This would make it more inviting to the nursing community to nurse there.

I know of several nurses who are leaving the area because of the pay. These people who get these big salaries have only a medical back ground in books. They are not like the nurses who take care of patients to see they are well. They are short-paid!

I think this “nonprofit” hospital needs to reline its incomes to help the community get more nurses and pay them well enough to want to stay here.

I am not saying my husband did not get good care, because he did. But I was with him 24/7 during his stay. I welcome any response to this letter. If I am wrong, please do not hesitate to answer.

FRANCES LUTTRELL Frederick County
January 17, 2009
Winchester Star's Letter to Editor



*****************************************************************************


For the record, there has been no rebuttal featured in the Winchester Star toward Mrs. Luttrell's commentary since it appeared in print on January 17, 2009.




Is Valley Health competing against taxpaying businesses?



Is Valley Health trying to be a good neighbor in the local community or do they want to bully its way over other taxpaying business?

For the record, nobody is disputing the quality of care that Valley Health provides, but there is another side that the local community is not very well informed about.  The two articles below should open your eyes up to a different perspective.


Former Grocery Store Takes on Healthy Look
Quad - State Business Journal
March 1, 2006
By Peter Heerwagen 
(highlights from the article)



While Valley Health sees synergy between its two units at 525 Amherst Avenue, it is less sanguine about the third tenant, the Winchester Eye Surgery Center. Looking for more control over scheduling of patients for cataract and other eye surgeries, ophthalmologists Dr. Frank "Hank" Reuling, Dr. John Stefano, and Dr. Nancy Eisele have joined forces to open their own surgical center.


Last year, the Winchester Eye Surgery Clinic applied to the Virginia Department of Health for a certificate of public need (COPN). Despite receiving a letter of opposition from Winchester Medical Center, which has its own Surgi-Center, at which cataract removals are performed, the state agency granted the COPN on December 22.


"We opposed it because it was a duplication of the services we provide," said Larry Van Hoose, [then] vice president for Valley Health. "Duplication tends to drive health care costs up.


Chamberlin said the ophthalmologists will invest $1.5 million in the center, and "Dr. Reuling is the largest equity owner."



Eye Surgery Center of Winchester



The Eye Surgery Center of Winchester is dedicated to providing the most advanced eye care and technology to the citizens of the Shenandoah Valley region. You will find the best in outpatient care and ophthalmic surgical technology at our facility. ESCW is currently performing cataract surgery, corneal surgery, oculoplastics, glaucoma surgery and general ophthalmology.

It is ESCW's  intention to provide a specialized environment specific to the needs of ophthalmic patients to encourage convenient access with lower cost in a setting more personalized than a traditional hospital.




Their surgeons and surgery center staff enjoy living and working in the Winchester community and surrounding areas and they want to be good community citizens. They plan to foster the delivery of charity care at the Eye Surgery Center of Winchester. They will provide charitable care at their facility in a volume that is in the top levels of health care facilities in the region.

To learn more about ESCW, following this link -> The Eye Surgery Center of Winchester






Valley Health Plans to Build Wellness Center
Quad - State Business Journal
March 2006 by Peter Heerwagen

Valley Health is ramping up its wellness offerings with a $17 million. 55,000- to 60,000-square-foot wellness center, complete with fourlane pool and running track, to be located on the campus of Winchester Medical Center.

Because it is greater than $1 million, the project needs a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) from the Virginia Department of Health. That is expected to be received by next month or in July. "The center should open in the winter of 2008, the first quarter of that year," said Dena Kent, executive director of wellness and rehabilitation at Valley Health.

In the jargon of the health-care industry, wellness centers owned by hospitals are called medical fitness facilities. Many of them, including the proposed Valley Health center, are run as non-profit businesses, so they don't pay income, property and sales taxes.

That status has raised objections from owners of for-profit commercial fitness facilities such as Nautilus, Gold's Gym and others, although none of the local operators has complained about Valley Health's proposed project to the Virginia Department of Health.

Not-for-profit hospitals have for-profit subsidiaries when they establish businesses like home care, pharmacies and physical therapy that compete with the private sector. However, when it comes to wellness centers, hospitals argue that promotion and improvement of the health of the communities they serve is part of their mission statement, so the centers should also be non-profit.

"There are over 1,000 of them [medical fitness centers], and they are primarily part of the health-care mission of preventive care," said Kent. "A lot of commercial clubs have tried to make an issue of it, but we go back to our mission and how much free care Winchester Medical Center provides, which is the second highest of all hospitals in Virginia [University of Virginia Medical Center is first]."

The $17 million cost projection includes the building, equipment and furniture, but that figure could change. "That was based on a 2005 price estimate," said Kent. "We're not going to get it re-bid until the COPN is received and the architect's plans are done." She said the Hughes Group is doing the architectural work, having designed a number of recreational wellness facilities, including university-based ones with pools.

The wellness center will include a 25-yard/meter pool, and a 10-to 15-lap-to-the-mile running track. It will include space for occupational and physical therapy outpatients now receiving services at other locations. Cardiac rehab might also move to the center at a later time.

An issue addressed by one of the oversight agencies reviewing the COPN request, Northwestern Virginia Health Systems Agency, Inc., was the "immediate and long-term financial feasibility of the project," as set forth in its Staff Report/Analysis, as amended March 22, 2006. The answer given in the report was, "The project would be funded from VHS [Valley Health System] cash reserves. FY 2004 year-end balance sheets show cash, cash equivalents and investments in excess of $170 million, easily sufficient to finance the capital costs of the project."

Craig Lewis, CFO for Valley Health, said that $170 million figure has gone up in the last year. "It represents our accumulated reserves, and it helps give us our AA bond rating. We have done well over the years due to the support of the community and our providing quality health care."

The wellness center will fall directly under Valley Health in the organization chart and not be part of Winchester Medical Center. "The wellness department, which serves all our hospitals, has always been under Valley Health, as we run outreach programs, exercise programs and others," said Kent.

Helping Valley Health plan the wellness center is Power Wellness LLC, a Chelsea, Mien.,-based company that manages a dozen large medical fitness centers. "They are a consultant and did the feasibility study and market research for us," said Kent.

"Although they operate other facilities, we will operate ours. They will be doing things that hospitals normally don't do. They will help with small segments such as billing for membership, which we will sub out to them. We are experienced in billing to insurance companies, but not for memberships."

In projections used for COPN approval, Valley Health said it is looking at a membership of 4,000 persons, targeting the 35- to 80-age group, especially people who don't exercise, said Kent. By comparison, Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, which has operated the RMH Wellness Center for a number of years, has 5,000 members paying $49 a month, said Director Tommy Hodge.

"We have 3,000 of our own employees in Winchester," said Kent. Valley Health is projecting that one third of them will join the wellness center.

"We looked at the current market, and 82% of the people within a 15 minute drive of the hospital do not belong to a health or fitness club," said Kent. Based on a survey, 4,741 of the 12,475 households who are not club members, or 38%, said they would definitely or probably use the Valley Health facility.

"I have met with owners of the local clubs, and some say we will take members away from them," said Kent. "But we are hoping to attract people who don't exercise. In most markets, commercial clubs did not go out of business; their memberships actually went up because of the increased awareness of fitness."

Memberships are slated to cost $50 for a single person and $80 for a family. "We will be more expensive than any other facility in the area because we'll have more staffing," said Kent." We will set the pricing before we open. Our current pool membership is $30 [at the Cork Street rehab center]. Pools are expensive because you need lifeguards and it must be clean.

"This is not just an exercise membership, although exercise is one part of the package. It is nutrition, understanding personal health issues through a health assessment program, and offering other programs like smoking cessation. And, for example, bariatrics, those persons who are overweight, are not comfortable going into a health club. We're not going to be just a workout club; we'll be open to all.

"We hope that businesses will give incentives and discounts to their employees to join the center. We're also interested in working with area industries in the areas of diet, diabetes, all of which drive up health care-costs."

One issue raised by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association in Boston, in a January letter to Valley Health's board of directors, is that "to justify a hospital-affiliated fitness facility' tax exempt status, it must restrict membership to hospital patients; or if non-patients will be members it must be available to the entire community and be able to document that its membership is representative of all economic classes in the community. The tax exemption of several hospitals has been challenged, often successfully, because hospitals have failed to meet theses guidelines."

Kent said financial aid would be available to some people. "We will do health assessments on every member and develop individual plans for them. If they have a medical condition that needs attention, then they can get a scholarship [if they are needy].

"There will be a number of health outreach programs, where anyone can come at any time and there are no fees."

Valley Health is projecting the wellness center business will break even in its second year, and after the third year will throw off cash flow of almost $1.3 million. Funding the cost of the center from Valley Health internal resources means there is no requirement for debt service.

"The money will go back into programs like the emergency room and other services delivered by the healthcare system," said Kent. "The amount of health care that we give away is far more than the taxes we would pay [as a non-profit].

"If it [wellness center] is such a big money maker, others would have come into the market."

Why not right this wrong with the pedestrian push-button poles/signage?

Writing in concern to the City Engineer's conclusion on for the placement of push-button boxes and signage on Braddock/Cork Street on the pedestrian poles.

A mistake or not with the placement of the NEW push button pedestrians poles/signage?


Thank you for your suggestions regarding the location of the pedestrian signals.

The City’s engineer has looked at this and concludes that while they would work in either location, he thinks they are fine where they are.    

We appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us. 



This is not the only one, there are several other intersections exactly like this one, the perception is that there is no consistent protocol used for placement. One can come to the conclusion there was not enough thought put into the push-buttons and placement of the signage. This is supported because the narrow poles are not wide enough to accommodate those signs. With proper placement of push-buttons, one bigger sign could have been placed in between the two push-buttons.

For aesthetic purposes, they are not very pleasing to the eye with signs being bunched together. WHY did we move the light pole in front of the library?  I thought this whole project was to help beautify the downtown, well there is some oversight that is very evident. The narrow poles appear to be all junked up.

This workmanship has to be unacceptable. Cannot remain status quo.

Bottom-line, we need to get things done correctly the 1st go-around. This also can be view as not taking pride in your work as well. Does this look right or not? If not, then speak up.

Take a look at every intersection with the NEW light poles and ask yourself, is every sign “level”?  Inconsistency again, anyone can just eyeball the many signs were just throw up without a level being used. Again, was not this project suppose to help beautify the City?  OK, why was the signage not installed with a level on the poles and arms?

For this to get corrected, you have to get involved and contact City Officials to share your concern.

Mr. Noe (Interim City Mgr) bobnoe@ci.winchester.va.us

I have heard from many of his subordinates, they wish Mr. Noe would become the City Manager.

Not sure who made the call on it but here is the list of staff from the City's engineer department:

Main Phone Number 540-667-1815
Hours of Operation 8:00am - 5:00pm (M-F)


engineering@ci.winchester.va.us

City Engineer : Kelly B. Henshaw, P.E.

Engineer I : Vacant
Engineering Inspector : Dennis Makely
Construction Inspector : Drew Brady
Construction Inspector : Robert Witherall


publicworks@ci.winchester.va.us

Director: Tom Hoy
Superintendent of Operations : Jason Didawick
Streets Crew Supervisor: Terry Davis
Traffic Crew Supervisor : Justin Hall


utilities@ci.winchester.va.us

Public Services Director: Perry Eisenach
City Engineer: Kelly Henshaw
Engineering Inspector: Dennis Makely
Construction Inspector: Robert Witherall
Construction Inspector: Drew Brady
Maintenance Supervisor: Mitch Thomas



To close, IF this pole was residing on your personal property, would you be satisfied with it?  Some may view this as a little thing, but those little things ADD up over time and there is an opportunity to right this wrong.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Update on push-button poles/signage @ Braddock/Cork street intersection

There's an update on this post in the comments field.  Just click on the link below of the post that was featured on October 9th.

A mistake or not with the placement of the NEW push button pedestrians poles/signage?




Update Oct. 13th @ 1:03pm from City official:

Thank you for your suggestions regarding the location of the pedestrian signals.

The City’s engineer has looked at this and concludes that while they would work in either location, he thinks they are fine where they are.    

We appreciate your sharing your thoughts with us.  






Update Oct. 12th @ 6pm:

I recv'd a call late this afternoon stating that Perry and Jason were scoping out the Braddock Street intersection. I was informed that there was some gesturing of the hands with what should be the proper location of the boxes and shaking of the head with disappointment.

My informant wish he had a camera as those shots would have been priceless.

This intersection is not the only one, as there many others just like the Braddock/Cork street intersection.

Bottom-line, let's hope all of these push-button oversights get corrected because it's the little details that appear to be getting over-looked