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Valley Health System CEO Announces Plan to Retire in 2020

Valley Health System President and CEO Mark H. Merrill announced to employees today that he will retire next year. He has led the region’s leading not-for-profit health system since 2009.

“Valley Health has thrived under Mark’s leadership, professionalism and commitment,” Board Chairman Joseph F. Silek, Jr. said. “On behalf of the Valley Health System Board of Trustees and our entire organization, I extend gratitude to Mark for his 10+ years of service and for all he has done to advance our health system, and promote health and wellness, both locally and across the region.”

Since informing the Board of his desire to retire, Merrill has worked with them to develop a thoughtful transition process. With the approval earlier this year of the new VHS Strategic Plan outlining the organization’s strategic roadmap and priorities for the next five years, the Board is well-positioned to recruit a new executive. A Board Search Committee, working with a national search firm, expects to select and onboard Merrill’s successor by next summer.

“I am immensely honored to lead a talented, dedicated team of more than 6,000 colleagues and 500 physicians who, every day, make a very positive difference in the lives of thousands of people in our regional community,” Merrill reflected. “Valley Health and, more importantly, the individuals who are Valley Health, are an essential community resource whose reach and impact are deep, wide, significant and long lasting. It will be difficult to leave Valley Health, the people who have inspired and humbled me over the last decade and a career that has energized and challenged me for 35 years, but I’m excited about supporting the transition process before opening a new chapter of exploration, more family time, postponed endeavors and more,” Merrill added.

Merrill’s contributions have been considerable during his 10-year tenure at Valley Health. Under his leadership, Valley Health has:

Integrated its six hospitals and renovated and/or constructed contemporary physical plants at all campuses (a new Warren Memorial Hospital is underway);

Expanded ambulatory care sites, growing its impact in the north, south and west regions;

Collaborated with physician partners on multiple joint ventures, expanding access to care for patients in Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland;

Improved alignment of initiatives with the physician community, including the recruitment of renowned specialists, greater physician capacity system-wide to ensure patient access to primary and specialty care, and significant expansion of Valley Physician Enterprise’s employed providers (physicians and advance practice clinicians);

Enhanced employee engagement and physician alignment, two critical elements for health system success which drive improvements in quality, safety, and patient satisfaction;

Expanded and strengthened clinical services, including heart and vascular, oncology, critical care, and neurosciences, and development of the VHS Cancer Center;

Streamlined Valley Health’s governance and organizational structure, including a two-phase Board consolidation, simplified management structure, and creation of a Board committee for system-wide quality oversight and improvement (QMAC);

Advanced information systems and technology, including the successful deployment of Epic as Valley Health’s electronic medical record, in cooperation with Inova;

Improved Valley Health’s financial strength, illustrated by strong nationally recognized financial ratings and other measures;

Implemented standardized, contemporary human resources policies, benefit and compensation plans, succession planning, and talent development programs;

Established a critically important alliance with Inova, strong working relationships with Shenandoah University, Lord Fairfax Community College, and other educational partners, and collaborations with community nonprofits working to improve health and wellness.

As a Board member and Chair of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA), Merrill’s leadership and tireless advocacy was critical to the expansion of Medicaid in the Commonwealth of Virginia, ensuring access to care for over 300,000 citizens.

“Mark’s legacy is how his work has positively affected patients and families, coworkers and colleagues, physicians, friends and strangers,” Silek observed. “I thank him for his efforts to advance our organization’s new strategic initiatives over the next year and appreciate the intellectual rigor he has brought to his work, his values-based leadership, and his commitment to our community. On behalf of the larger organization, I wish him the very best as he embarks on the new adventures that retirement presents.”

“Mark has been instrumental in guiding Valley Health and positioning the system to provide the highest quality care to the patients we serve for decades to come,” said Patrick Ireland, MD, Vice-Chairman of the Valley Health Board of Trustees. “Implementing the strategic initiatives around “One System-One Purpose” and the needed physical and IT infrastructure, Valley Health has further matured as an outstanding state-of-the-art health care delivery system. Mark’s wisdom of a shared vision with the physician community, promoting alignment and common goals, has promoted a culture of understanding that we are more effective together when addressing the challenges facing health care.”