Friday, June 20, 2014 - Valley Health-Schools Partnership Recognized by Virginia Department of Health
Valley Health received the Virginia Department of Health’s “Business and Industry Partnership Award” for Region 4 and for the state. The nomination was made by Page County and Winchester Public Schools, but the partnership extends to four other school systems (Frederick, Warren, Shenandoah and Clarke counties) to promote and expand health and medical sciences education.

“We are honored to be recognized on both the regional and state level for our school system partnerships,” said Mark H. Merrill, Valley Health System President and CEO. “By encouraging high school students to pursue health sciences careers we not only expand their options for rewarding work, but we also fill the pipeline for future healthcare professionals, which is vital to our organization and those we are privileged to serve.”

Merrill and Rick Leonard, EdD, newly-retired Superintendent of Winchester Public Schools, led a group that travelled to Richmond last Thursday to accept the award. The two men have co-chaired the regional community partnership for health sciences education that kicked off in April 2013. At that time, Valley Health announced a $300,000 commitment to enhance current curriculum, create more dual-enrolled courses with higher education, and better align educational programs with the needs of local employers. The funds will cover 50% of the anticipated costs of additional courses and instructors for two years, at which point each school division will absorb the full cost.

The health system also committed to sponsor an annual Health Sciences Academy, which is underway this week. Thirty-nine students from the region are receiving hands-on and classroom exposure to a variety of health science careers, in collaboration with higher education partners Shenandoah University and Lord Fairfax Community College, and with support from the Winchester Medical Center Foundation.