VHS Senior VP, first director of VHS Rehabilitation celebrates 25th anniversary

VHS Senior Vice President David Crosson celebrates his 25th anniversary with the company in July 2024.

David joined the team in 1999 to bring VHS Rehabilitation to life as Executive Director. At that time, he was its only team member.

“I was doing treatments, evals, and recruiting therapists,” he said.

VHS Rehabilitation launches

His connections from previous stops with national rehabilitation contract companies helped VHS Rehabilitation (then Virginia Health Rehab) staff up quickly. At the time, the reimbursement model for nursing homes changed and it became more business savvy to provide an in-house therapy team in nursing homes for skilled care.

“Because of how the industry was changing, those therapists at contract companies and recent grads were looking for work. I was able to provide job opportunities. With me being the only person, I needed the staff, too. We were able to bring staff on pretty quickly,” David says.

About a year later, VHS Rehabilitation opened its outpatient site. Over the course of its 25 years, VHS Rehabilitation has grown to include physical, speech and occupational therapy in outpatient, skilled care and contract settings that have included assisted living centers, jails and schools.

Today, the VHS Rehabilitation team has about 70 regular team members and 250 PRNs to staff its skilled care therapy rooms, outpatient center and contract clients. The team includes physical, speech and occupational therapists, techs, assistants and administrative assistants.

While he has a background in physical therapy — he earned bachelor’s degree in exercise science and master’s degree in physical therapy from Old Dominion University — David says he prefers the operational side of the business, including staffing and dealing with regulatory issues.

During his time with VHS, David has had a hand in the acquisition of Coliseum in 2013 — “that was a big pickup for us,” he says — and spearheaded establishing VHS Home Health Care in 2015 and VHS Hospice in 2017.

“Once we got into skilled care, VHS grew a lot. We changed our operations. VHS grew along with me,” he says.

He was promoted to Senior Vice President in 2016.

Home and Community-Based Services grow

VHS bought a license from a company that was owned by the company former VHS Home Health Care Administrator Cheri Brnich was working for at the time.

“She was very aggressive in our buildings,” he recalls. “She and I clicked. She’s very enthusiastic. She was then the acting administrator at a different company and we had a good working relationship. We brought her on as administrator for Home Health.”

He says they expected a slower ramp up when VHS Home Health Care launched, but “it came out of the door fast and we had 30 residents in the first month, which set expectations really high, even though we were doing it with limited staff. … If we had known we were going to pop that fast, we would have had more staff.”

He says VHS Hospice took about a year to start from scratch and become licensed.

“My philosophy is I don’t have to be the smartest guy in the room, but I surround myself with the smartest people. If I have a good team, they make me look better,” he says. “I have the knack to help manage and have vision. That’s where growth during those periods occurred. …

“We have a great opportunity to collaborate with all of our business units. We should be the provider of choice for our residents when they need rehab, home care, hospice. There’s so much value to that.”


The Philadelphia native met his wife while attending ODU.

“She had just started her PhD program at ODU,” he says. “Her family was here, father worked for Old Dominion. This just became the place we landed.”

He says he is proud of everything he is involved in developing.

“The Rehab piece is a big piece of VHS. Home Health and Hospice were big additions to VHS and the success of VHS. It wouldn’t be something I would want to do and walk away from,” he says. “It’s nice to see those businesses develop and evolve. And then, it’s also the people. … A lot of what I do is more for the people who work for me, and keep them employed in environments they’re thriving in.”

Three graduate Gloucester apprenticeship program

Virginia Health Services celebrated its most recent class of apprentice graduates from the Gloucester program during a ceremony Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Three students graduated from Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and will continue to serve on the team at Walter Reed. The earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program provides about six weeks of classroom and clinical skills training, in addition to on-the-floor experience, and covers the cost of the certification exam to be a CNA.

Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins welcomed friends and family to the ceremony.

“I started in the CNA class back in the stone age,” Bryant joked, “and it catapulted my career.”

Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins addresses the three graduates from the podium as instructor Tracy Williams looks on.
Walter Reed Administrator Bryant Hudgins welcomes the graduates and their friends and family during Tuesday’s ceremony.

Bryant worked his way from CNA to LPN and then served in various roles including MDS before becoming the licensed administrator for Walter Reed.

“These ladies have bright futures ahead in healthcare. Thank you all for supporting them,” he said. “This is just the beginning. We take great pride in providing a clinical site, and welcome them to the team.”

Gloucester graduates

The graduates — Jordan Hudnall, Kaeli Key and Candi Lewis — brought a sense of humor to the class, said Training and Education Coordinator Tracy Williams, MSN, BSN, RN.

They all wound up having personal connections to Tracy. She went to school with Kaeli’s father, lives down the street from Candi and worked with Jordan while she was a Care Assistant before the course started at Walter Reed.

“This was a very special class for me. They all learned quickly and excelled in clinicals and the classroom portion of the class,” Tracy said.

Jordan earned the Champion Award for excelling in class and connecting with the residents.

Candi was salutatorian and Kaeli was awarded valedictorian for top marks.

“I was extremely nervous — kind of like I am right now — and worried I would fail, but I was wrong. With the help of amazing teacher and two equally amazing classmates, I watched my confidence increase week after week,” Kaeli said in her valedictorian speech. “… Thank you, VHS, for offering this program, Tracy for being the best teacher we could have, and Candi and Jordan for being so supportive and all the laughs. We did it.”

Kaeli Key delivers valedictorian remarks to her classmates, who are all smiling.
Kaeli Key delivers valedictorian remarks and thanks her fellow graduates.

Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd closed the ceremony, thanking the graduates for choosing Virginia Health Services.

“You have a bright future, and exhibited a desire to serve and be there for residents,” Rebecca said. “Long-term care is hard, but very rewarding. You develop relationships and really care for people.”

Apprenticeship program

The next Gloucester-based apprenticeship course is slated for Aug. 5-Sept. 12. Applications are open and available at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

The Peninsula-based program is underway, with graduation scheduled for Aug. 1. The next class is slated for Aug. 19-Sept. 26, and applications should open soon at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

VHS President & CEO featured in Becker’s Healthcare emerging trends article

VHS President and CEO Mark Klyczek was included in an article from Becker’s Healthcare, “From AI to Telehealth: 82 Healthcare Leaders Discuss Emerging Trends.”

Mark says value-based care and top-line revenue growth are the top two trends VHS is following, with multiple value-based care opportunities emerging in Virginia.

“Virginia has prioritized value-based care in skilled nursing facilities, which is the best way to reward high performing organizations and incentivize organizations to improve,” he says. “… These types of programs are vital to grow our top-line revenue as expense increases remain sticky and do not show any signs of improving in the short term. Our strategy of top-line revenue growth has significantly mitigated the expense increases and when our expense reduction strategies take hold, our top-line revenue will already be growing and healthy.”

Value-based care, the use of AI, veterans healthcare, staff recruitment and retention, and telehealth were other trends included in the piece.

The leaders, including Mark, will be featured speakers at the Becker’s 12th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable conference in November. Read what they all had to say here.

VHS Home Health Care & VHS Hospice introduce Director of Operations

Ariane Minette, LMSW, was recently named Director of Operations for VHS Home Health Care and VHS Hospice. The move follows the resignation of Administrator Cheri Garner-Brnich, who joined the VHS team about 10 years ago to start operation of VHS Home Health Care.

“Cheri has been instrumental in the establishment and growth of Home Health Care and Hospice; we thank her for all of her years of service and wish her the best in her next chapter,” Donna Marchant-Roof, Vice President of Home and Community-Based Services, said in an email to the organization.

About Ariane

Ariane has been a social worker on the VHS Hospice team and oversees the volunteer program. She also is a field instructor for students in master’s social work programs.

“It’s a great opportunity,” she says. “It’s a learning curve for sure, but so, so phenomenally lucky to have amazing staff on both home health — which is so established and doing a great job — and hospice.”

Ariane oversees the day-to-day operations of both service lines. She says she is big on communication and having standard operating procedures established so the team is “confident and comfortable about what we’re doing and have accountability moving forward so we can build additional relationships like the one we have with Brookdale.”

She has formed a committee to start planning the annual Celebration of Life that VHS Hospice typically hosts in November for loved ones of former patients. The event helps provide closure for those close to the individuals, including members of the hospice team.

New focus

Ariane still visits patients — “they’re my heart, my soul. That’s why we’re all here, that’s my drive,” she says. “I love touching base with my patients and seeing how all this impacts them. It’s always humbling.”

Her main focuses right now are understanding the foundation, evaluating policies and practices to see if they are the best and most efficient ways of doing things, growing census, and focus on how the team works together to be cross-sectional.

“I just want to get to know everyone better, and let them know me — be that person who’s consistent. I just want to make it easier for the team to do their job well,” she says.

While her dog Darby is a little unsure about the longer days in the office, Ariane is excited for all of the opportunities for growth the area has to offer.

“It’s a really exciting time right now, in terms of where healthcare is,” she says. “I truly, truly believe in the home aspect of home health and hospice — being where you are. It doesn’t have to feel so medicalized and pull you away from people you love. I truly believe in bringing healthcare to the home. I see how well we do it, and how well we can continue to do it, so I want to be able to get people to understand how it helps them. … I want to help the people and give them the things they need.”

Volunteer with VHS Hospice

Volunteers are the heart of what we do. VHS Hospice is looking for compassionate and thoughtful volunteers to assist those in our care, their caregivers and our team members. You’ll provide emotional support and companionship. Some responsibilities include assisting our clients with tasks such as gardening, lawn maintenance and pet care. Your duties may include providing relief to caregivers or assisting our team in the office with a variety of tasks. We provide all the necessary training.

Share your interest here.

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Learn more about VHS Hospice and VHS Home Health Care on Facebook.

Recruiting Roadshow returns June 24-27

Virginia Health Services recruiter Colleen Reynolds resumed her Recruiting Roadshow of our nursing and rehabilitation centers in January. The Roadshow will be quarterly, with editions in January, April, June and (tentatively) September 2024.

The Recruiting Roadshow will give applicants a chance to apply and interview in person at our locations in Newport News, Hampton, York County, Gloucester and Kilmarnock. Job candidates can see our centers and get a feel for where they are applying.

“I want to make myself more visible to team members and applicants in each building,” Colleen says.

The increased presence should better support new hires and identify team needs.


June dates:

  • York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Hamilton Assisted Living, 9 a.m.-noon Monday, June 24.
  • Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1-4 p.m. Monday, June 24.
  • James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 25.
  • The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Huntington Assisted Living, 9 a.m.-noon Wednesday, June 26.
  • Northampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, June 26.
  • Lancashire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 9 a.m.-noon Thursday, June 27.
  • Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1-4 p.m. Thursday, June 27.

How to be a successful applicant

Colleen shared ways to stand out among job applicants to Virginia Health Services. She sees hundreds of applications and conducts about 15 phone interviews a day. Make yourself standout.

“I’ll take a chance on people for a phone interview if the application looks like a professional effort was made. If you’re not making the effort in the application, hard to think you’ll put an effort into the work. Put your best foot forward to get to the interview process and sell yourself,” Colleen says.

Application tips

  • Complete all application questions.
  • Spelling and grammar should be correct.
  • Create a professional email address to use when applying. Use your correct contact information so you are reachable.
  • Have a professional resume (regardless of work history).
  • List any transferable skills
  • Be professional (avoid personal details)
  • List work experience
    • For those with limited or no work history, such as high school students, please list any part-time work experience or have an objective statement with a career goal listed. Be sure to include school and graduation date.

How to successfully interview by phone

  • Research Virginia Health Services (information is easily accessible at vahs.com). Colleen says, “Tell me why you want to work for VHS and what you know. Take the time to visit the website. I always ask, ‘why do you want to work for Virginia Health Services?’”
  • Ask questions about the job and company.
  • Read the job description so you can best speak to how your qualities and skills make you the right fit for the job to which you are applying. Talk up your skills – hard (like clinicals) or soft (such as organization and time management).
  • Be on time. Answer the phone. Give advance notice if possible to cancel. “Life happens, but keep it at a professional level at all times,” Colleen says.
  • Know your resume. Clarify when you were licensed. Colleen says, “Know your own work history and those important dates.”
  • Send a thank you message to follow up to everyone you spoke to.

How to successfully interview in person

  • Be professional.
  • Be on time.
  • Dress business casual for an in-person or virtual interview.
  • Be prepared. Know your work history.
  • Present yourself in a professional way.
  • Be prepared with questions. Ask about the position or VHS. “You have to make sure it’s a good fit for you the same as we need to make sure it’s a good fit for the company. … You have to make sure you know where you’re going,” Colleen says. (This applies to phone interviews as well.)
  • Send a thank you message to follow up.

“Everyone serves a purpose on the team,” Colleen says. “Tell me how you think you’ll fit in the organization and what you bring to the team.”

Join our team

Explore career paths with Virginia Health Services and apply online at vahs.com/careers.

Top marks for June apprentice cohort

Seven students graduated from Care Assistants to Nurse Aides during a ceremony June 6, 2024, at the EEE Center. The students — overall — had top marks in their classwork and completing clinical skills labs throughout their experience in Virginia Health Services’ earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program

The students spent nearly six weeks in the classroom and in clinical skills labs at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hampton. They learned 22 skills, took 14 tests and got hands-on experience working with patients. The apprenticeship program also covers the cost of the state certification exam to be CNAs, which they’ll take after going through review courses.

Friends, family members and VHS team members from corporate and Coliseum attended the graduation ceremony. Instructor Nora Gillespie, RN, and Director of Education Princess Henderson, BSN, RN, gave remarks as each graduate received their certificates, and they received updated name badges now that they are Nurse Aides.

The graduates before the ceremony June 6, 2024, at the EEE Center. They will join the teams at Coliseum and The Newport.

The graduates – Diamond Anthony, Jenny Broadsword, Ken Claiborne, Amauri Hicks, Essence Jones, Dania Manago and Ja’Mya Starks – will join the teams at Coliseum and The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers.

“You should be proud of the teamwork and this family you all created. You’ll be friends for a long time,” Princess said during the ceremony.

Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas and Director of Nursing Yolanda Carnegie-Chambers cheered on the graduates. They supported the students through their apprenticeship and will have six of the seven on their team.

VHS Vice President of Operations Don Lundin and Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd also shared remarks with the class. Don called the graduates who will move into CNA roles “the backbone of what we do.”

“This is a hard job. We want to support you through your professional journey,” Rebecca said. “We want to help you grow and flourish.”

The graduates

Princess said this class showed tremendous growth and bonded together to work as a team to make sure everyone got to the finish line. She and Nora showered the graduates with praise for their heart, compassion and ability to work together as a team.

Nora shared Diamond picked up everything right away. “She was eager to jump into the CNA world. She loved her residents,” Princess said.

Ken Claiborne “was like everybody’s brother. He looked out for the class,” Nora said. Princess says he is a caring person and built rapport with his residents at Coliseum.

He and Essence received certificates from Princess for excelling in clinical skills.

Essence came to class with experience in home health care, but felt she needed the training the apprentice program provides. “We’re lucky to have her on the team,” Princess said.

Amauri, the salutatorian, aspires to be a physician assistant. She is a student at Hampton University, and feels more prepared for the medical program having gone through the training.

Dania received the Champion Award from Princess, which recognizes the most improved in the class.

“She grew personally and professionally,” Princess said. “She fell in love with caring for people.”

Ja’Mya — affectionately called Jam — loved her residents and “is the type of person we want to work for VHS,” Princess said. She is in the nursing program at Norfolk State University and feels she learned so much more in the apprentice program.

“You have the strength that will carry you through to a phenomenal career,” Nora said.


Valedictorian Jenny Broadsword came into the class with healthcare experience. She excelled in class and in clinicals, Princess said. Nora added she was good at helping her classmates get through learning the skills needed to be a successful CNA.

Valedictorian Jenny Broadsword and Director of Education Princess Henderson.

In her valedictorian address, Jenny showered compliments on Nora and Princess.

“Today marks the start of a new journey. Six weeks ago we embarked on a new path with VHS. We entered this building as nervous, excited and as strangers. Today we exit as we began, with a newfound appreciation for our role as caregivers and with new friendships,” Jenny said.

“Along the way, we were guided by our amazing instructors who never hesitated to explain, demonstrate and respond to our requests. Nora and Princess, thank you for instilling in us seriousness and dignity of the caregiver. …

“With Miss Nora in our ears and Princess holding our hands, we navigated through the highs and the lows of clinicals. We walked in with our heads held high … we have gained invaluable knowledge of what it means to be a caring caregiver. As we leave here today, one thought continues to ring in our ear, ‘do it with heart and do it right’.”

Valedictorian Jenny Broadsword delivers her remarks to her peers.

Upcoming classes

The graduates will participate in review sessions before taking their state certification exams.

Applications are closed for the next class, which starts June 24 at the EEE Center. Students of the Gloucester class graduate July 9 at Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Sessions are scheduled throughout the year at both locations, and applications typically open six weeks in advance of the class start date.

Learn more at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

VHS celebrates Healthcare Recruiter Recognition Day

It’s National Healthcare Recruiter Recognition Day! We’d like to take some time to introduce you to Virginia Health Services’ Senior Recruiter Colleen Reynolds. We appreciate all she does daily to recruit new team members to the organization and help them through to the offer and onboarding processes.

Over the past two years, Colleen has been in the community to build awareness about Virginia Health Services and our employment opportunities. The community groups and education organizations she’s partnered with have helped elevate VHS’ recruiting efforts and attract top talent in a competitive industry.

Colleen started with Virginia Health Services more than two years ago. She was born and raised in New York and has lived in the South for the past 16 years. Colleen is a stepmom and dog mom to two girls, a 12-year-old and a French bulldog. She also is a true crime fanatic.

Community involvement

Colleen says the community partners she consistently works with stretch across the Peninsula, Gloucester area and Northern Neck. They include workforce development programs and higher education programs.

Colleen also attends career fairs throughout Hampton Roads. She follows up with recent college grads, such as those in the nursing programs at Hampton University, ECPI University and Fortis College, to make sure they are aware of available career paths at VHS.

She has partnered with Rappahannock Community College, Hampton University and Northern Neck Technical Center to conduct mock interviews and better help the students prepare for the “real world” when looking for employment.

Colleen also focuses on connecting with those in the VA and other military outlets to attract retirees and military spouses to careers with Virginia Health Services. One of those partners is Hamilton Ryker’s TalentGro.

Additional community outreach partners include: Hampton Roads Workforce Council, New Horizons, Commonwealth Catholic Charities, Peninsula Regional Education Program (Newport News), Tidewater Medical Training, Brooks Crossing-Navigation Wealth Program (Newport News) and Virginia Peninsula Community College and VPCC Workforce Development.

Why healthcare recruiting?

Colleen says she was drawn to recruiting so she could help individuals reach their career goals.

“When I am able to make the initial connection with a candidate and follow them through the interview process, all of the way to the job offer, it is extremely rewarding to be a small part of their professional development and journey,” she says.

The healthcare industry stands out because these positions offer job stability – there’s always a need, regardless of location. She says it’s one industry where starting at entry-level can mean advancement to other specialized roles.

“The possibilities are truly endless within the healthcare industry,” she says.

Recruiting Roadshow

Logo for Recruiting Roadshow

Colleen hosts quarterly Recruiting Roadshows at VHS’ seven nursing and rehabilitation centers. The events allow her to interact with current team members in their work environment and show appreciation for what they do. It is helpful in better targeting quality candidates.

“It also means being flexible in completing the interview/offer/new hire paperwork process on site,” she says. The Roadshow also gives candidates the chance to meet the team and management, and ask questions.

The next Roadshow is June 24-27. Get the schedule here.

Careers at VHS

We having openings for nursing positions, dietary, housekeeping and more. View our job listings and apply to careers with Virginia Health Services at vahs.com/careers.

Meet the VHS Directors of Nursing

It’s National Nurses Week (May 6-12) and Virginia Health Services would like to introduce you to our Directors of Nursing. The DONs oversee clinical teams at our nursing and rehabilitation centers and our assisted living communities.

This year’s theme is “Nurses Make the Difference,” and according to the American Nurses Association, it is meant to honor “the incredible nurses who embody the spirit of compassion and care in every health care setting.”

Our DONs make a difference daily – to our residents and to their team members. We are thankful for the dedication of our DONs and their leadership across the clinical teams of VHS. They provide guidance, teach and ensure VHS maintains consistent quality care of its patients and residents.

Meet the team

Most of the DONs at Virginia Health Services have been with the organization for more than a decade. Some started as CNAs or LPNs, developing their careers into roles such as MDS, nurse manager and Resident Assessment Coordinator. Others came on as RNs in leadership roles.

As experienced RNs, VHS relies on their expertise in all clinical areas of our nursing and rehabilitation centers.

VHS has seven DONs: Yolanda Carnegie-Chambers (Coliseum); Melissa Liley (James River); LaTasha Muse (Lancashire); Amanda Martinez (Northampton); Toshua Cutler (The Newport and The Huntington); Lana Ketch (Walter Reed); and Desiree L. Plunkett (York and The Hamilton).

We asked them to share mini bios so you can get to know them.

James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Melissa Liley, BSN, RN

Melissa Liley headshot
James River Director of Nursing Melissa Liley

Years of service with Virginia Health Services: 15 years.

What drew you to a nursing career in long-term care? I like creating bonds and relationships with the staff, residents and families.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or less? Industrious but rewarding.

What advice would you give new team members? Maintain a great attitude and be open to change.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? Spend time with my family.

Lancashire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

LaTasha Muse, RN

LaTasha Muse portrait
Lancashire Director of Nursing LaTasha Muse

Years of service with Virginia Health Services: 16 years.

What drew you to a nursing career in long-term care? I have always had a love for the elderly and I’m a team player.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or less? Demanding yet rewarding.

What advice would you give new team members? Stay focused and remember why you chose the job — no matter how hard it may seem.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? I enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Northampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Amanda Martinez, RN

Portrait of Amanda Martinez, DON at Northampton
Northampton Director of Nursing Amanda Martinez

Years of service with Virginia Health Services: 16 years.

What drew you to a nursing career in long-term care? I have worked most of my nursing career in long-term care, starting out as a CNA and grew from there.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or less? Extremely challenging, but also rewarding.

What advice would you give new team members? You have to have an open mind, be willing to learn something new every day, and be able to put yourself in the resident’s shoes – they need us to care for them, they depend on us – always keep that as your reasons why. 

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? I LOVE the gym! I enjoy strength training and weight lifting. It has become part of my normal outside of work. I always say it’s my therapy; the way that I decompress from my day-to-day.

Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Lana Ketch, RN

Lana Ketch
Walter Reed Director of Nursing Lana Ketch

Years of service with Virginia Health Services: Employed since 1995. I started out as an LPN and completed my RN degree in 2018 while maintaining full time status.

What drew you to a nursing career in long-term care? My great grandma received home health services and I was fascinated with the kind and compassionate care she received from the nurses. I also saw the joy and appreciation she had for the nurses and the care they gave. She would always say “not just anybody is cut out to be a nurse.” I truly believe that and it takes a lot of patience, compassion, empathy, and a love for people. I love the geriatric population and feel we have so much to learn from them. To see a resident make progress after an unfortunate event and the smiles on their faces makes my heart happy.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or less? “Best decision I ever made.” (Although very stressful, very rewarding as well.)

What advice would you give new team members? Come to work with a positive attitude and do your best to make your residents feel safe and loved. Even the smallest gestures can make their day. As I said to the last graduating CNA class, “If you go home after a long shift and know that you put a smile on your resident’s face, shared their joy in an accomplishment, or made them feel special, then you have done your job and it was a great day!”

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? Love spending time with family, DIY projects, bowling with my friends on a league, being the cheerleader for my daughter who is currently in nursing school, and following my favorite baseball team (New York Yankees).

DONs at Coliseum, The Newport and York

Coliseum Director of Nursing Yolanda Carnegie-Chambers, RN, joined the Virginia Health Service team in 2015 as the DON. Throughout her 25-year nursing career, she has served in many roles such as a floor nurse, supervisor, educator and Director of Nursing. Long-term care is her passion and she has worked with the elderly population for over 20 years. When she is not working, she enjoys spending quality time with her family.

Desiree Plunkett, RN, oversees the clinical team at York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (since 2015) and The Hamilton Assisted Living (since it opened in 2018).

Toshua Cutler, RN, BSN, is the Director of Nursing at The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Huntington Assisted Living. She has been with VHS for about 20 years and her roles within the organization include Resident Assessment Coordinator (MDS), supervisor, charge nurse and floor nurse. Prior to joining VHS, Toshua worked as an LPN at another long-term care facility. She graduated with her associate’s (ADN) in nursing from ECPI University and decided to further her education and graduated with her BSN in nursing from ECPI. In her spare time, she loves to travel, shop, and enjoys spending time with her granddaughter, who brings great joy to her life.

Join our team

Our Directors of Nursing are always on the lookout for quality candidates for our CNA, LPN and RN openings. Career paths with VHS include MDS, Resident Assessment Coordinator, nurse manager, nurse scheduler, assistant director of nursing, certified wound care and infection prevention. If this might be a fit for you, visit vahs.com/careers to learn more and apply.

Virginia Health Services celebrates National Nurses Week 2024

Thank you to the Virginia Health Services team of nurses!

We are celebrating National Nurses Week (May 6-12) by thanking our entire nursing team and showing our appreciation for all they do.

The VHS nursing team builds relationships with our residents and patients to provide the highest level of quality care possible.

To celebrate, there will be food and other treats, gifts, and additional appreciation opportunities during National Skilled Nursing Care Week (May 12-18). VHS does what it can to recognize our nurses throughout the year.

Director of Nursing Rebecca Boyd

“Nurses often are underappreciated,” says VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd. “And it’s a hard job.”

Nurses are not only caregivers in VHS communities, they often are also caregivers in their own homes and are the first call for family members seeking medical advice or opinions.

“You wind up being a resource to everyone. It’s why we do what we do,” Rebecca says. “We do care about people. Our nurses want to give of their time. When you give and you give, you kind of empty out.

“Our job is to fill our nurses back up and remind them what they do matters every day. They are making a difference. They’re changing a life. Those small acts of kindness that half the time they’re not even cognizant of, but it makes an impact and it has a bearing on someone else’s life.”

National Nurses Week is celebrated the same dates each May, as May 12 marks the late Florence Nightingale’s birthday. The week has been supported and promoted by the American Nurses Association (ANA) since 1896.

Why choose a nursing career in long-term care?

There are several advantages to choose being a nurse in a long-term care setting, Rebecca says.

“Long-term care in nursing gives you an opportunity to develop relationships with the patients – you can really make an impact,” she says.

It’s meaningful work – and one with many opportunities for career growth and advancement.

Graphic: Northampton Director of Nursing Amanda Martinez says, "In this role, it takes a well-rounded person. You are hit with so many different things throughout the day with residents, staff, residents' families, facility issues - you have to be able to think on your feet. ... In this role, you become the voice of reason and at times their comforter, helping people in the most vulnerable times in their lives."

“In the hospital, you typically see patients briefly. It’s quick in, quick out. … In long-term care, you have the opportunity to know the resident, to know the family member and make an impact in their life. If they’re a skilled care resident, you help them get back to their home environment. Help them regain their confidence and skills they need to get back to their home environment. That’s very rewarding for our nurses,” Rebecca says.

“For our long-term residents, you can have the opportunity to make an impact and be there at the end of their life. That is very purposeful for staff. Families will remember something very small I did at their bedside 20 years, but it made an impact for them. I think that’s why a lot of our nurses choose long-term care, because of relationships.”

Nursing career paths with VHS

Virginia Health Services employs a team of CNAs, LPNs and RNs, and regularly has openings. VHS also offers an earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship that graduates Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and covers the cost of the state certification exam to be a CNA. Courses are available on the Peninsula and in Gloucester, Virginia. Many students have gone on to nursing school to be LPNs and RNs.

Our CNAs spend a majority of the time with our nursing and rehabilitation centers’ residents. They help get them ready for the day – or in the evening for bed, and going to and from meals and activities. CNAs are the eyes and ears for the nursing team to provide daily assessment of a patient’s well-being.

Rebecca says LPNs and RNs get involved in the residents’ medical needs.

“Oftentimes, they’re the go between for families and providers,” she says. “They can definitely influence the care that’s given.”

For RNs, there are advancement opportunities in long-term care that aren’t available in other healthcare settings.

Graphic of The Newport's Director of Nursing Toshua Cutler: "I have worked for Virginia Health Services for almost 20 years and was in Managed Care for about two years as a Resident Assessment Coordinator. The position is a very rewarding and challenging experience. It is a position where you grow and learn a lot of new things. The best part is learning MDS and interacting with the residents."

Career paths in long-term care nursing

There are many different avenues to keep fresh when you’re a nurse in a nursing and rehabilitation center. Those include:

  • MDS Coordinator, which drives the quality measures and level of care, as well as drives reimbursement to ensure VHS can provide the care and services needed. Coordinators have to dive deep to see what those patient diagnoses are to determine level of care.
  • Certified wound care nurses are a needed specialty. “We deal with chronic-type wounds, surgical wounds that won’t heal. We have to be specialized in wound care and be on the cutting-edge of wound products,” Rebecca says.
  • IV management is key. There are many patients on IV antibiotics and other IV treatments that must be managed daily.
  • Leadership opportunities in management positions such as director and assistant director of nursing and administrator. Several of the DONs in VHS have come from MDS roles; the same is true of our administrators. Many started as CNAs or floor nurses – that foundation where you learn a lot about the resident, Rebecca says.
  • There are also opportunities to move into nurse education roles. Director of Education Princess Henderson started in the CNA class with VHS in 2008. “It’s all about education, education, education,” Rebecca says. “The need for continuing education of the staff is vital to providing quality care. … A majority of our CNAs are coming from the six-week apprenticeship program. A lot of their education has to be on the job. It relies a lot on the nurses who already are part of the structure to provide that education.”
  • There are opportunities to provide education within each facility, starting with infection preventionists.
Walter Reed's Director of Nursing Lana Ketch: "It takes a lot of patience, compassion, empathy, and a love for people (to be a nurse). I love the geriatric population and feel we have so much to learn from them. To see a resident make progress after an unfortunate event and the smiles on their faces makes my heart happy."

Join our team!

We are hiring for all positions, including CNAs, LPNs and RNs.

VHS Home Health Care and VHS Hospice also have openings for nurses. Short-term contracts also are available for nursing positions.

VHS offers competitive wages and benefits, flexible scheduling, bonuses, early wage access, training and development opportunities, and more. Visit vahs.com/careers to apply today.

We also offer an earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program that graduates Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and covers the cost of the state certification exam to be a CNA. Available dates, details and application links are at vahs.com/apprenticeship.

Classes are offered in Newport News/Hampton and Gloucester, Virginia, throughout the year, and graduates go on to work at VHS nursing and rehabilitation centers. Graduates have moved into roles such as recreational therapy or continued employment while attending nursing school.

Stephanie Johnston joins VHS team as Executive Director of Senior Living

Stephanie Johnston has joined the Virginia Health Services team as Executive Director of Senior Living. She is responsible for establishing the strategic direction to achieve operational excellence at The Hamilton & The Huntington Assisted Living and The Arbors Independent Living.

Stephanie has more than 20 years of sales and operations experience in various industries, including mortgage, residential and commercial real estate investing, telecom, and commercial lumber. She grew her passion in senior living for nearly six years in a sales leadership role, providing strategic support and training for 38 communities before joining VHS.

“It’s an honor to serve others. If you lead with a caring heart, and an open mind, you will make a difference,” she says.

Her previous experience in senior living included a lot of travel – sometimes up to 4,500 miles a month by car, plus flights – but she says it also allowed her to help the sales team and be closely connected to the operations side to help offer the best first impression and experience to residents. She also assisted with caregiver education and dementia training for team members.

Stephanie says she is excited to use the depth and breadth of her experience to help build the VHS senior living team to be the best it can be.

“Everyone has a different skill set and so it’s about taking what’s exciting for them and motivating them to grow what they currently experience day-to-day and bring in their personal passion,” she says.

Resident experience

When it comes to senior living, it’s all about providing the best experience that’s personalized to the residents. Whether it’s learning of a resident’s favorite meal that will provide comfort or a family story, Stephanie says engagement and communication for peace of mind are key.

“It’s our honor to be able to care for them and allow them to live their best life,” she says.

Solid wellness and dining and nutrition programs, engaging activities and events, and making sure residents feel independent to “continue to be who they are in their everyday life and allow their life history to flourish” factor into a well-rounded resident experience, she says.

“We want to make sure we’re impacting their health in a positive way,” she says. Having VHS Rehabilitation within the team allows a streamlined and convenient option for care.

“It’s our honor to be able to care for them and allow them to live their best life.”

Stephanie Johnston, VHS Executive Director of Senior Living

All can be achieved, she says, by helping keep familiarity for the residents. “We have to ask questions of families to help orientate a resident when they come in to provide a sense of comfort and peace. Knowing a favorite meal or type of music and offering it can set the tone to make them feel the most comfortable when they move in and call us their home.”

Utilizing monthly resident council meetings to be sure residents have a voice and input into menus, calendars, community projects and more also can help the team improve the resident experience.


Stephanie graduated from ECPI with a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. The Virginia native resides in Gloucester with her husband. She has a daughter who is a Gloucester County Sheriff’s deputy. She says they enjoy “country living,” which includes spending quality time with family, exploring with her Boxer and enjoying nature. Stephanie also is new to gardening – “trying to find my green thumb,” she says.

Senior living with VHS

Virginia Health Services offers senior living options in Newport News and York County.

When the responsibilities of home ownership become too much, The Arbors Independent Living offers a maintenance-free lifestyle with private apartments, inclusive dining, events and activities, and personal transportation. Also included are valet parking, concierge service, housekeeping and linen service — all without a costly entrance fee. Schedule a tour of The Arbors.

VHS assisted living communities, The Huntington and The Hamilton, provide a safe environment when an individual needs extra assistance with their healthcare needs. A nursing team is available 24/7 to residents, and private apartments are designed for safety and ease. Dining, activities, housekeeping and more are included, without an entrance fee.

Schedule a tour of The Huntington or The Hamilton.

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