IT team backbone to VHS

We’re thankful for the Virginia Health Services’ IT Team! Our team implements and maintains technology solutions across the company, which includes 1,200 team members stretched from the Peninsula to Kilmarnock and sites Richmond to Southside.

They field between 10 and 30 tickets most days, depending on need. Some require on-site response, while others can be solved remotely. The team is nimble, responsive, and share a large database of solutions they’ve developed over years of troubleshooting.

The team

Kathy Wickline has more than 20 years of experience with VHS. She manages the communication between team members to ensure issues are resolved. She has seen the growth and development of technology across VHS, including the move from paper to online nurses schedules.

How shift schedules were kept at facilities has been updated from this large piece of paper. "There was a lot of whiteout, erasing and correction tape used," Kathy said.
How shift schedules were kept at facilities has been updated from this large piece of paper. “There was a lot of whiteout, erasing and correction tape used,” Kathy said.

Michael Leeman joined the team earlier this year. He has a background in information technology in the food service industry. His role extends to VHS devices and their users.

“Identifying and helping people with solutions; I’m hands on with devices as well. Primarily, my role is finding new solutions for problems and implementing solutions,” Michael said.

Jacob Bean, who is part-time, is recognizable throughout the VHS facilities. He spent time working in customer service for the Norfolk Naval Station – so he’s no stranger to the importance of keeping client information secure.

He says his role is computer maintenance with all of the devices to make sure they are up to date with anything that needs to be done. He also is growing into doing other things on the team.

“Michael is mentoring Jake. Michael doing more networking, enterprise solution stuff. He takes on a lot on himself to learn. Jake is very eager to learn also. We all just share knowledge,” Kathy said.

They’re all very hands on. There also is a group that handles specific software programs to keep the VHS teams running, and a contracted firm that ensures cybersecurity across platforms and within solutions.

IT Team group shot
VHS IT Team of Michael, Jacob and Kathy incorporate solutions to keep team members online, devices working and patient information secure.

2023 projects

The team has implemented many solutions across VHS. A few of the 2023 project highlights:

  • Dialysis Den infrastructure
    • The Dialysis Den, which opened in June, involved additional technology infrastructure to keep networks secure. The Den, which is operated in partnership with DaVita, has multiple channels to protect data from both providers. “There was a separate subnet so it wouldn’t touch our network and mitigated risk,” Kathy said. “There’s a lot that goes into the backend of the implementation and figuring out what it is the customer wants. It takes a lot of planning.”
  • New call bell system
    • A new call-bell system is being installed at Northampton (as a pilot site). There is a lot of testing that goes into improving the call bells, the team said, including ensuring the Wi-Fi is strong enough to maintain the software and maintaining the building’s Wi-Fi needs.
  • Cyber security training videos
    • Cybersecurity awareness is key to the healthcare business. There is a lot of confidential information that needs to remain protected, under law. Quick training videos are now available to VHS team members to stay updated on trends, scams and best practices. “I think it’s a good tool to have in place,” Michael said. “It’s informative. The No. 1 threat to security is the end user. … The biggest benefit is protecting our clients’ data. Clicking the wrong link can open us up to legal issues. Having the awareness of what’s safe and what isn’t is pretty big.”
  • IT ticketing system
    • The updated system was implemented in early spring. It has cut down on emails and phone calls, and the ticket tracking system allows the team to see who it was assigned to (or if it needs to be assigned). “It’s been huge for us to stay organized,” Michael said, and keeps tickets that need to be fulfilled top of mind.
  • Upgraded security camera interface
    • The interface for viewing security camera footage is moving to the Cloud, which will make sections of video quicker to access, view and save.

Some current systems are aging, Kathy said, and the interface is cumbersome.

“It’s constantly refreshing technology. Something as basic as updating conference room speaker phones to help the sound; IT’s constantly stuff like this,” she says.

VHS Admissions Team on frontline of customer service

Virginia Health Services’ centralized admissions team handles all incoming patients to our seven nursing and rehabilitation centers.

The team has a combined 50(ish) years of experience with Virginia Health Services. And how do they surprise the individuals they talk to daily?

“Many people are surprised that they get to talk to a human voice,” says team leader Kassie Martin.

They field about 100 (or more) phone calls a day between them. They remain professional, courteous and patient as so many of the individuals they speak with feel the stress of finding a safe place for their loved ones.

Our team members have to know how to decipher insurance information, understand medical charts and breakdown financials.

The team reads medical history and charts – and they get referrals from many sources.

It’s a challenging job to keep track of multiple individuals and where each is in the process. Once the admissions process is completed, the individual transitions to a Resident Navigator at the nursing center to onboard in person, which means our admissions team rarely meets in person those they’ve admitted.

It’s worth it. The team agrees the work they do helps contribute to the community they work in.

Thank you to our team! We can’t do it without you!

Join our team

Our centralized admissions team is looking for a coordinator who is a LPN. Visit to apply today.

VHS Maintenance Team makes (everything) work

Creating home-like environments for residents takes a team. The upkeep of each facility requires a team dedicated to working behind the scenes, changing light bulbs, checking the plumbing, and so much more.

It’s National Health Care Facilities and Engineering Week (Oct. 22-28), and Virginia Health Services is celebrating its maintenance and facilities staff. VHS operates three senior living communities, seven nursing and rehabilitation centers, and maintains offices for corporate support services, VHS Rehabilitation, VHS Home Health Care and VHS Home Hospice.

Graphic for Facilities and Engineering Week

Jesse Young, VHS Vice President of Facilities and Development, oversees facility maintenance. He says each building (depending on size) has a dedicated maintenance person or an Environmental Services team member responsible for maintenance tasks. There also is a traveling corporate team that handles major projects and serves as a stopgap for vacations or turnover.

There are two team members who have been with VHS for about 20 years, and several others with the team for five years or less.

“We are so dependent on what they do every day, and yet it’s very behind the scenes. A week like this is valuable recognition of the team,” Jesse says.

Maintaining VHS

Jess says skill sets can vary person to person. Someone in each building takes care of routine tasks.

“It’s a lot of light bulbs, toilet repairs, door adjustments – because of our traffic, doors take a beating,” he says.

Some of the tasks are major, and the corporate team helps handle larger-scale tasks, such as AC/heating unit replacements and boilers. The team handles a lot of plumbing repairs.

“It saves us from having to contract out all of the major items,” Jesse says.

Team members are jacks of all trades.

“For the most part, until you get to the major electrical things, it’s more being able to track an issue and think with an analytical mind. The key is someone who can do a little bit of detective work and get to the bottom of whatever it might be,” Jesse says of maintenance team members.

Some of the aesthetic work, such as painting, and some repairs also fall to EVS to balance the work of all teams.

“It works really well that way,” Jesse says.

Facility updates

The team also manages facility upgrades, including some at The Arbors Independent Living, which opened in Port Warwick in 2003.

The flooring is being replaced in several community spaces and some of the furnishings have been replaced. Apartment upgrades also have been made.

The team also participated in the addition of the Dialysis Den to Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which opened this summer.

The Den, which opened in partnership with DaVita Kidney Care, provides on-site dialysis hemodialysis to Coliseum residents, reducing the discomfort, inconvenience and cost of frequent transportation for treatment.

Dialysis Den chair and equipment at Coliseum
The Dialysis Den at Coliseum opened in June. It is operated in partnership with DaVita.

The VHS facilities team also is working on upgrades to the lobbies of the seven nursing and rehabilitation centers. The first to be completed was at Coliseum to coincide with the opening of the Den. Fresh paint, flooring, graphics and furniture spruced up the entryway. Other improvements include in public restrooms and other shared spaces.

Full photo of Coliseum's lobby
Coliseum’s lobby upgrades including fixing the skylights, and updating the furniture and other fixtures.

Join our team!

We are always on the search for talented jacks of all trades! Visit to explore our opportunities and apply.

VHS celebrates CNA Week

The week of June 15-21 is designated by the National Association of Healthcare Assistants as CNA Week. This year’s theme is “We’re Unstoppable.” We know the team of Nursing Assistants and Certified Nurse Aides (CNAs) at Virginia Health Services is unstoppable.

We have a range of CNAs, from veterans to those who will graduate from our apprenticeship program to Nurse Aides on June 22. Our CNAs are the eyes and ears of the clinical team at our communities, spending time with the residents and patients. They provide personal care to assist residents in getting ready for the day and aide in all forms of activities of daily life. CNAs build personal relationships with the individuals in their care.

To celebrate this year, we are featuring four CNAs who have come up through VHS’s apprenticeship program in the past two years.

Our team members fell in love with the job because of the residents. And it all started with the team of instructors for our apprenticeship program, Director of Education Princess Henderson, RN, BSN and instructor Nora Gillespie, RN.

The six-week earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program graduates Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and covers the cost of the state certification exam to be a CNA. Apprentices are then employed at our seven nursing and rehabilitation centers.

Three of our featured apprentices graduated from the program about a year ago. Another was in our third graduating class and spent over a year as a CNA before transitioning to activity director of The Huntington Assisted Living. She still works CNA shifts.

Here are their stories.

Devyn Hotop, The Huntington/The Newport

Devyn Hotop considered nursing after graduating from high school, but wanted to attain nurse aide certification to test the waters. She says the apprenticeship – she graduated in the July 2021 class – gave her the foundation she needed and she “really, really liked it.”

She passed her exam on the first try and worked for more than a year as a CNA at The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Devyn said she always saw the residents having a good time during recreational therapy and when the activity director job opened at The Huntington Assisted Living, she knew she wanted to do it.

“I love this job so much. You develop a lot of one-on-one personal relationships. It keeps you busy, which I like. It’s rewarding knowing you are doing something for them,” she says.

She also picks up CNA shifts at The Newport to be hands-on in patient care.

The Huntington activity director Devyn Hotop graduated in the third apprenticeship class. She still picks up CNA shifts at The Newport.
The Huntington activity director Devyn Hotop graduated in the third apprenticeship class. She still picks up CNA shifts at The Newport.

“In this role, I’ve had so many people help out with stuff. My teammates are always helping me and they always listen. That means a lot. Even in as a CNA, I know I’m coming in to work with people who will help me,” she says.

Devyn says she uses everything she learned during the apprenticeship.

“The class has great teachers,” she says. “Everyone at VHS has been such a good mentor and there’s a lot of support through it all. The class is overwhelming, but worth it in the end.”

CNAs are vital – “they glue down everything,” she says. “They do so much for the residents and provide so much care and spend the most time with them. They know before anyone else if something is off or wrong.”

Anjil Hicks, Northampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Anjil was the valedictorian of her class that graduated in September 2022. She passed her certification exam on the first try.

She comes from a family of nurses and CNAs. She says listening to her family’s stories encouraged her to go into healthcare as well.

“I’ve always been a caring person, genuine. So I wanted to be a CNA, but I didn’t have the money to pay for the class. This was perfect,” she says of the apprenticeship.

Anjil Hicks was the valedictorian of her apprenticeship class and is a CNA at Northampton.
Anjil Hicks was the valedictorian of her apprenticeship class and is a CNA at Northampton.

Anjil says the team at Northampton “is amazing” and is supportive.

“I love my residents. I love helping to take care of them,” she says. “I love my team. Even from outside (the clinical staff), the administration is just so nice and supportive if you need it. This community, I love it.”

She says her foundation came from the apprenticeship class.

“The instructors are the best teachers ever,” she says. “They always made sure we understood the material before we moved on to something new.”

Anjil says she is considering going back to school to be a RN. She knows the team at Northampton will have her back when she does.

Jazmine Martin, York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Jazmine was working as a patient care aide when she noticed how CNAs interacted with residents and the nursing team.

“I wanted to do more and I looked up CNA classes and saw the one offered by VHS,” she says.

She graduated the class in September 2022. Jazmine says the job is “always a learning experience – there’s always something new.” She gets support and guidance by her teammates at York and The Hamilton Assisted Living.

Jazmine Martin is a CNA at York.
Jazmine Martin is a CNA at York.

She says she was drawn to senior care after seeing how much help her grandparents needed as they aged.

“I just fell in love with older people,” she says.

Jazmine plans to enroll at ECPI to gain her RN license.

“My son makes me want to continue on. I want to push myself to do more for myself and him,” she says.

Her advice to new apprentices: “Always put the residents first. They can tell you, if they’re able to, but put their thoughts in mind. They know when you are around.”

Laurinda Palmer-Yearby, James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Laurinda – she’s called Palmer on the floor – completed the CNA class in February 2022. She’s primarily been on the Warwick unit at James River since graduation.

She worked as a CNA while living in New York City and went through the apprenticeship class to get certified after moving to Virginia. There are different rules and regulations each state follows.

“I was always going to be a CNA,” she says. “My mother, sister and aunt are nurses. My grandmother was a CNA. My family has a lot of nurses and doctors in it and I was always going to be in healthcare.”

She and her apprenticeship classmates remain tight, texting one another to keep in touch. She also likes working at James River.

Laurinda Palmer-Yearby was a CNA in New York before moving to Virginia where she had to be recertified.
Laurinda Palmer-Yearby is a CNA at James River. She comes from a family of nurses and doctors and knew her career path would be in healthcare.

“I like there to be camaraderie on the floor. If I ask questions here, I’ll get an answer the best I can. Most of the time we do pretty good. We learn from one another,” she says.

She is back in school at Virginia Peninsula Community College (formerly Thomas Nelson) to be a patient care tech, which is an advanced-level CNA. Laurinda says you learn more about how to evaluate a patient, like therapy does. She plans to have it completed by the end of the summer.

“Being a CNA is a little more personable. In a hospital, you don’t get to know the patients. … You don’t come here looking for a relationship with anybody, but you realize they really enjoy having you around to talk to them and to have you help them get ready for the day and attend activities,” she says.

“I love the energy the residents have to give.”

Join our team

Our applications for the apprenticeship program are available at We also have openings for CNAs at all of our nursing and rehabilitation centers and for our home and community-based services. Visit for more.

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’ recruiter Colleen Reynolds. We appreciate all she does daily to recruit individuals to the organization and help them through to the offer process.

In the past year, Colleen has been in the community to build awareness about Virginia Health Services and our employment opportunities. Her focus made her think outside of the box in attracting talent in a competitive industry.

She hosts the Recruiting Roadshow at each of our seven nursing and rehabilitation centers monthly. She attends career fairs throughout Hampton Roads. She made a stop by the Hampton City Schools Academy Career Fair. And she follows up with recent college grads in the community to make sure they are aware of available career paths at VHS.

Colleen 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.

She 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.

Recruiting Roadshow logo

Colleen says the Recruiting Roadshow allows her to interact with current team members while they are at work, showing appreciation for what they do and being better able to target qualities in 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.

She 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,” Colleen 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.

Colleen was born and raised in New York and has lived in the South for the past 16 years. She is a stepmom and dog mom to two girls, an 11-year-old and a French bulldog. She also is a true crime fanatic.

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

Join Colleen on the Recruiting Roadshow in June and July. Click here for the summer schedule.

Virginia Health Services celebrates National Nurses Week 2023

Thank you to the Virginia Health Services Nursing Team!

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

We rely on our nursing team to build relationships with our Residents and patients to provide the best quality care possible.

To celebrate, there’ll of course be food and other treats, plus additional appreciation opportunities during National Skilled Nursing Care Week, which comes on its heels May 14-20. VHS does what it can to recognize our nurses throughout the year.

Portrait of VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd
Portrait of VHS Vice President of Nursing Rebecca Boyd

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

Not only are nurses caregivers in our communities, they are 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.”

A little about National Nurses Week. The end date marks the birthday of the late Florence Nightingale. 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.

“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.”

graphic of DON Michelle Smith sharing why she likes being a long-term care nurse

Nursing career paths with VHS

Virginia Health Services has openings for CNAs, LPNs, and RNs regularly. We also offer 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.

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 to and from meals and activities. They are the eyes and ears for the nursing team to provide daily assessment of a patient’s well-being.

graphic of Melissa Lawson sharing why she enjoys being a MDS coordinator

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.

Those career paths include:

  • MDS Coordinator, which drives the quality measures and level of care, as well as drives reimbursement to make sure VHS can provide the care and services that are 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.
graphic of CNA Carrie Isaac sharing why she loves her job

Join our team!

We are hiring for all positions, including CNAs, LPNs and RNs. We have openings for MDS Coordinator, an Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON), Central Admissions Coordinator (LPN), Infection Prevention, Nursing Education Assistant Instructor (RN or LPN) and an RN Nursing and Education Coordinator. Short-term contracts also are available for nursing positions.

Virginia Health Services offers competitive wages and benefits, flexible scheduling, bonuses, early wage access, training and development opportunities, and more. Visit 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. We’ll open applications for July’s class in June. They will be available at

Work feels like home for Cofields at Coliseum

A lot of Virginia Health Services employees will share they find working for the organization to be like family. For the Cofields, it’s literally true.

Five members of the Cofield family are also team members at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Angel Cofield is the business office manager, Catesha is a nurse scheduler, LaToria is a nurse aide, LaToya is MDS, and brother Dominique works in the dietary department.

Three sisters, Angel, Catesha and LaToya, have been part of the VHS family for a long time, working at James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and at then-Coliseum Park before its 2013 purchase by VHS.

LaToria completed the apprenticeship program to become a CNA, and is working toward her certification exam. She started in dietary before moving to laundry and housekeeping. She says she was encouraged to enroll in the earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program to keep growing with the company.

Working together

You’d think spending so much time together, between work and home, would wear on their relationship. But all said it makes them stronger, they push each other harder to be better.

Angel and LaToria family photo
Angel and her sister

“We’re so used (to being together) it doesn’t bother us to work together too,” Angel says. “We bicker, but we push each other. We can vent to each other.”

That sentiment is echoed by family members.

“My mom raised the six of us to be close …” Catesha says. “We’re used to it. … if we get tired of each other, we just go in our room. It’s good; it don’t bother us because we’re so close.”

The pandemic pulled the team at Coliseum together as a whole, Angel says. “You get that family feel throughout the company.”

“All of my siblings have such great work ethic,” Angel says. “I admire their skills.”

Career development as a team

The support for continued education really helps VHS stand out among other companies.

“Dudley was definitely a great teacher. She’s inspirational,” Angel says.

LaToria says Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas is encouraging her to explore options, and Catesha says she’d love to see her sister go to school to be an LPN or RN. Catesha says she also is debating going through the Administrator-in-Training (AIT) program. She was named Team Member of the Year at the facility.

“You want to stand out, you go that extra mile,” Angel says of the family being overachievers.

Catesha says it took some time for her to realize she could be a good mentor.

“I tell people that I see who have attitudes, I try to talk to them. I tell my story, how I was, and it resonates with them. It’s my purpose, I can mentor someone, even if it’s just one person I can touch,” Catesha says.

Angel was Team Member of the Year at Coliseum
Angel was Team Member of the Year at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was given her certificate by Administrator Dudley Haas.

Family ties

Angel says most of her best friends she has gotten to know through VHS.

“It’s like a family feel. I know everybody, I’ve been here forever. This is like home to me,” Catesha says.

Their family is originally from eastern North Carolina, in the Edenton area.

“We moved as a unit,” Angel says of her family. “It’s a coincidence(ish) we all wound up here.”

Join our team

Join our team and be part of the family. We have positions available in nursing, dietary, housekeeping, custodial, accounting and more. Visit to see our available openings and apply.

Virginia Health Services celebrates its long-term care administrators

It’s Long-Term Care Administrators Week!

The American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) established the week to recognize the “key players in the care team.” Administrators “are entrusted with the responsibility of managing the care of our loved ones. They touch the lives of residents and families, and, most importantly, ensure that their staff provides the highest level of quality care to a vulnerable population.”

Virginia Health Services celebrates our Administrators and Assistant Administrators at our nursing and rehabilitation centers! They dedicate their time and attention to their Residents and team members. They multi-task and do whatever they can to make their centers feel like home, all while providing leadership and support to their entire team.

Please join us in thanking our long-term care Administrators and Assistant Administrators and get to know them in their Q&As below.

Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Dudley Haas, Administrator

Portrait of Dudley Haas
Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas.

Years with Virginia Health Services: 10 years.

What drew you to a career in long-term care? I started as a QA (Quality Assurance) nurse for the hours and ended up in the Administrator-in-Training program.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer? Every day is different.

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? Some of the issues and concerns that we deal with daily.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility that is unexpected? Quilting.

Haley Holland, Assistant Administrator

Coliseum Activity Director Haley Holland pictured on a mountaintop with her dog Millie.
Coliseum Activity Director Haley Holland often brings in her dog Millie, shown here, to provide pet therapy to Residents and team members.

Haley Holland is Assistant Administrator for Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Haley assists in supervising the operation of the facility. Prior to this role, she was a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, providing person-centered and innovative programs for the older adult population. Haley graduated from Longwood University with a bachelor’s in therapeutic recreation. Interacting with her grandpa who had dementia drew her to working in long term care and helping older adults live their most successful life. In her spare time, Haley enjoys spending time with her family and mini aussie exploring parks and walking trails. She is also an avid reader. Something that may surprise others about her job is how active and ever-changing working with older adults is. In five words or less, her job is best described as, “every day is different.”  Haley is passionate about working with older adults and helping them live their best and most independent life. 

Haley’s last day with us is March 31. She is helping transition our new Assistant Administrator, Aleisha Anderson.

Aleisha Anderson, Assistant Administrator

Coliseum Assistant Administrator Aleisha Anderson
Aleisha Anderson joined the Coliseum team this month.

Years/Months of service with Virginia Health Services: I am a new team member with Virginia Health Services.

What drew you to a career in long-term care? Since childhood, I have had a passion to help others and always knew I would have a career related to helping others within a community. I have been in the healthcare field for more than 10 years, expanding my abilities in dental, hospital, and most recently, within long-term care settings.

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? How staff, residents and families work together to deliver a high quality of care.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? I love to spend time with family and friends. The beach is my happy place. I have a passion to travel, love to decorate and event plan, and enjoy attending festivals.

James River Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Karl Keffer, Administrator

Karl Keffer headshot
James River Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Administrator Karl Keffer

Years/Months of service with Virginia Health Services: I started my career with VHS as an Administrator in Training in 1988. In 1989 I was the first administrator at Northampton. I left VHS in 1991. I returned to VHS as Administrator of James River in March 2022.

What drew you to a career in long-term care? I became interested in long-term care because I had wanted to have a career in healthcare administration after graduating college.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer? My job is both challenging and rewarding.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? I enjoy playing golf on the weekends.

Lancashire Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Adam Harrison, Administrator

Portrait of Adam Harrison
Lancashire administrator Adam Harrison

Years/Months of service with Virginia Health Services: 7 months.

What drew you to a career in long-term care? I completed an Administrator-In-Training program following the completion of a graduate degree in healthcare administration.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer? It’s give and take; rewarding. 

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? Behavioral health and its place in long-term care and being knowledgeable in applicable regulatory processes and working collaboratively with outside agencies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all residents.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? Tending to my animals. I live on a small farm. 

The Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Stephen G. Berczek, Administrator

Stephen holding a fish
Stephen enjoys fishing and boating when he’s not at The Newport.

Years/Months of service with Virginia Health Services: Coming on 4 years.

What drew you to a career in long-term care? Started out in physical therapy as a tech for VHS and then branched off into the administrative roles. I have always enjoyed helping others, especially the elderly.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer? Rewarding, challenging, fast-paced.

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? The extensive workload.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? Snowboarding, traveling, working on motorcycles/cars, hiking, boating, fishing.

Northampton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Portrait of Nikki Clements
Nikki Clements at Northampton

Nikki Clements is coming up on two years as Administrator. This is her second turn with Virginia Health Services. She says her true passion is serving the Residents and staff in our long-term care communities and believes that to be successful is understanding that “what you do is far greater than what you say” from Stephen Covey. In her spare time, Nikki enjoys traveling and spending time on the water with her family and their rainbow of rescued labs. She recently announced she is leaving VHS at the end of March.

Walter Reed Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Bryant Hudgins, Administrator

Bryant Hudgins
Bryant Hudgins started as a Nurse Aide with VHS.

Years/Months of service with Virginia Health Services: 28 years.

What drew you to a career in long-term care?  I’ve always enjoyed helping others and as I turned older I unfortunately witnessed my grandparents and other older members of my family endure long, drawn-out illnesses. The more I become engaged in healthcare, I realized how long-term care would give me the opportunity to help others in need as they aged. Also, the security and stability a career in healthcare would guarantee.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer?  A continuous evolution in healthcare.

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? How different every single day is. The duties of my job not only encompass the resident care and services but also physical plant and quality control of environment. It makes no single day ever the same.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? I enjoy spending time with my family an am always out supporting youth sports. I recently completed my 10th year of coaching travel AAU basketball in 2022.

Amy Payne, Assistant Administrator

Portrait of Amy Payne
Amy joined the VHS team about a year ago.

Years/Months of service with Virginia Health Services: Almost a year (10 months).

What drew you to a career in long-term care? I started working as an LPN in long term care in 1996. I’ve worked in many medical environments including long term care, memory care, travel nursing, inpatient rehab (IPR), and general family practice. After receiving my EMBA degree in 2020, I pursued a position in the AIT program to continue working in the long-term care environment that I am very familiar with and passionate about.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer? Sometimes overwhelming, always rewarding!

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? The volume and diversity of duties completed daily, no two days are the same.

What is something you like to do outside of the facility? Anything outside, on the water, beach and boating, bonfires/campfires. I love spending time with my family and friends.

York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Elizabeth Cabusora, Administrator

Portrait of Elizabeth Cabusora
Elizabeth enjoys singing karaoke, sometimes with the Residents!

Years with Virginia Health Services: Started as administrator June 2021; was LPN at James River from 2008-2009.

What drew you to a career in long-term care? Caring for others — family, people of authority, peers, elderly – was part of my upbringing.

How would you describe your job in 5 words or fewer? Compassion is required.

What aspect(s) of the job would surprise others? You can utilize your talents in your workplace — we all appreciate the effort!

What is something you like to do outside of the facility that is unexpected? Karaoke😊

Joel Batista, Assistant Administrator

Headshot of Joel Batista
Joel Batista is the Assistant Administrator at York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Hamilton Assisted Living.

Joel oversees to day-to-day operations of York. Before joining VHS, Joel served eight years in the U.S. Navy as a Submariner stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He worked on several projects with the Pearl Harbor survivors from World War II and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal two times during his service in the Navy. He has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration. Joel is married and has three children. He and his family love the beach and going to the pool.

Women’s History Month: VHS highlights women’s integral role to advancement of medical care on Peninsula

In honor of Women’s History Month, Virginia Health Services is shining a light on the pivotal role women played in the advancement of medical treatment on the Peninsula.

VHS was founded in 1963 and for the past 60 years has strived to be the provider of choice for senior living, senior care, rehabilitation, home health and hospice. We recognize the value of our location in Hampton Roads and its rich history, which includes contributions to the medical field. And we’re proud to partner with Fort Monroe to celebrate women’s contributions to nursing and therapy this March.

Nurses stand in a group during a photo shoot at Fort Monroe in the 1950s. (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe)
A group of nurses views records during a photo shoot for the 50th anniversary of the Army Corps of Nurses. (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe.)

We asked Fort Monroe archivist Ali Kolleda to share some of the former Army post’s history of women nurses and reconstruction aides, who were the precursors to occupational and physical therapists.

“World War I was a big turning point for the medical field, and specifically women’s involvement,” Ali said.

The research extensively shows the integral role of women’s work in the Army, well before they were allowed to enlist in 1943.

Virginia Health Services continues the tradition of supporting women’s roles in providing care on the Peninsula.

Civil and Spanish-American Wars

Fort Monroe was a hub for the treating of wounded soldiers during the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. It was considered easy to access along the waterways, and was the only Union stronghold in the South during the Civil War.

At the time, Ali said, “Fort Monroe was lauded as ‘a miraculous climate that could cure disease,’ and the Hygeia Hotel was meant to allow wealthy people to convalesce and ‘take to the waters.’ Hygeia was named after the goddess of health.”

Nurses were treating malaria en masse and wounded soldiers from combat.

During the Spanish-American War, articles are written about how exemplary the nurses’ care is when treating soldiers returning from Cuba, Ali said.

Archive image of Chesapeake Females Seminary (now home of the Hampton VA). Courtesy of Fort Monroe
Archive image of Chesapeake Females Seminary (now home of the Hampton VA). (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe.)

There were between three and four hospitals set up at Fort Monroe during the Civil War. The complex included the Post hospital, a requisitioned the ballroom at the Hygeia Hotel, the then-Chesapeake Female Seminary, a tent Hampton Hospital (for enlisted soldiers) and a contraband hospital at the Fort’s entrance.

They were huge complexes with hundreds, if not thousands, of nurses running them.

“They’re called volunteer nurses through Spanish-American War,” Ali said. They were taught at medical schools and apprenticeships through hospitals. Many nurses were trained through the Red Cross.

A circular published during Civil War (possibly by Dorthea Dix) advertised for “matronly women, widows – women who don’t have dependents,” Ali said.

Ali said that changes, especially during times of war. Some women would follow their drafted sons and husbands to the post as nurses.

Lucina Emerson Whitney, volunteer Civil War nurse at Monroe
Lucina Emerson Whitney, volunteer Civil War nurse at Monroe. (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe.)

“Lucina Emerson Whitney followed two sons who were serving in the 67th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, which was sent to Virginia,” Ali writes based on Fort Monroe archived documents. “She was assigned to the Hampton General Hospital (of the U.S. General Hospital, Fortress Monroe) in June 1863 where she served for the duration of the war.”

During this time, black women could not enroll in the Red Cross. There is not a record of black women as nurses at Fort Monroe during WWI.

Black women were contracted during the Civil War at Camp Hamilton (Phoebus) as nurses. Harriett Tubman was at the Fort during Civil War to inspect the contraband hospital. She was offered the job as head nurse – “we don’t know if she came back because the war was over at that point. We know she was here for three months conducting the inspection,” Ali said.

Records at the end of Civil War (1870s) show that black midwives delivered children at the Fort.

“They were here,” Ali said, “but wouldn’t have been officially considered Army nurses in the Nurse Corps.”

Army Corps of Nurses

Army nurses are at Fort Monroe consistently from 1901, not just times of war.

“(Training) becomes formalized in 1901 at the end of the Spanish-American War when the Army realizes they need a permanent body of nurses,” Ali said. “The Army Nurse Corps is created at that point. Army nurses are contracted, not enlisted, so there are no benefits. They’re not considered veterans. They’re simply civilian women contracted as nurses.”

They developed a community on the post. Ali said Fort Monroe has community activity bulletins in the collections from the 1910s and 1920s that outlined who could swim at the community pool, and when.

Women, as nurses, were considered the equivalent of officers. They were accepted as a social part of the fort. At the end of WWI, with influenza ramping up, black women were allowed to enroll as nurses with the Army Nurse Corps through the Red Cross. They were assigned to certain posts in the Army, not necessarily at Fort Monroe.

Nurses at work at Fort Monroe in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe
Nurses at work at Fort Monroe around the time of the 50th anniversary of the Army Corps of Nurses in 1951. (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe.)

Women enlist in Army medical unit

Women were open to enlist in 1943. Nurses’ quarters were constructed at Fort Monroe and nurses arrive in 1944. Women had their own barracks, mess hall, and were segregated from the male companies. They fall under the chief of staff for Army Field Forces.

At their time of enlistment, men and women received the same benefits and pay for the same rank. There were limitations placed on women for what rank they could reach until the 1970s. During WWII, their rank was usually captain or major.

The Army Corps of Nurses celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1951. The Fort Monroe collection includes medical unit lists of those women, souvenir menus and other items.

“(Women) become a very well-integrated part of the Army at that point, 1943 onward,” Ali said.

Photo of Captain Elizabeth Steindel, which appeared in the Daily Press on April 11, 1943. (Courtesy of Fort Monroe.)
Photo of Captain Elizabeth Steindel, which appeared in the Daily Press on April 11, 1943. (Courtesy of Fort Monroe.)

Ali shared an anecdote about Captain Elizabeth E. Steindel, who was chief nurse at Fort Monroe for about two years (1943-1945) during World War II. She was trained at Mercy Hospital in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and was commissioned as an Army nurse in 1942. She taught an accelerated course at the Fort Monroe station hospital to train nurse’s aides in 1945 – which sounds like a precursor to the CNA apprentice training currently offered by Virginia Health Services.

According to a newspaper article from the time, “the Monroe nurses get a certain amount of military drill and calisthenics.” The article also states there was “a staff of 12 handling a 139-bed hospital.”

Once Fort Eustis, Fort Story and Langley Air Force Base are established, the military dispersed medical stations around Hampton Roads.

The Fort Monroe hospital, which still stands on Ingalls Road, was converted to a clinic after the 1950s. Fort Monroe lost a lot of its operations, including maternity, which eventually was assigned to Langley AFB, Ali said.

The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was inactive in 1974 and women were fully integrated into male units. By 1978, WAC dissolved into full integration in the Army.

On a map of Fort Monroe during the time of Reconstruction after the Civil War, Fort Monroe archivist Ali Kolleda points out where the Post Hospital and matrons' quarters were upon entering the fort's main gate.
On a map of Fort Monroe during the time of Reconstruction after the Civil War, Fort Monroe archivist Ali Kolleda points out where the Post Hospital and matrons’ quarters were upon entering the fort’s main gate.

Birth of occupational and physical therapy

Occupational and physical therapists also come out of WWI, then called reconstruction aides.

Near where the Hampton VA Hospital now stands was once the National Home for Disabled Volunteers, Ali said. It was a place for draftees to go to receive support for their “war neuroses.”

They were “asylum style hospitals; full-functioning communities for medical care,” though the underlying causes of mental health weren’t addressed at the time.

When the Army needed a demarcation hospital, it requisitioned the Hampton National Home and the veterans shifted to other hospitals in the U.S. Eventually it became General Hospital No. 43, which was geared toward mental health, shellshock and war neuroses, Ali said, to fulfill President Woodrow Wilson’s push to return soldiers to being “productive members of society.”

Reconstruction Aide Lois Clifford, pictured in the Pittsburgh Daily Post on Dec. 26, 1919. Clifford published manuels, such as on weaving, as part of occupational therapy training. (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe.)
Reconstruction Aide Lois Clifford, pictured in the Pittsburgh Daily Post on Dec. 26, 1919. Clifford published manuels, such as on weaving, as part of occupational therapy training. (Photo courtesy of Fort Monroe.)

They added reconstruction aides, who were women trained privately through a hospital program and instituted programs to rehabilitate soldiers physically and mentally.

“It becomes the premiere neuro psychiatric facility of the Army” in Hampton, Ali said, and there were other locations.

One of the techniques the reconstruction aides used was weaving to help soldiers handle anxiety by occupying the mind. Programs were instituted and research was done that contributed to the occupational therapy program.

Occupational therapist Lois Clifford was assigned here in 1919 for the neuro-psychiatric hospital. She was trained occupational therapist and worked with soldiers with war neuroses. She was discharged from the Army with a “mental breakdown,” she calls it, and took time off for her recovery.

Clifford published a book on card weaving in 1947 and spent most of her life after her breakdown as occupational director at West PA School of the Blind.

The therapists fell under the Army medical department; no separate entity was created for reconstruction aides.

Virginia Health Services offers rehabilitation in its skilled nursing center units and outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy. We recognize the important work women did as reconstruction aides to lay the groundwork for that field.

Two VHS team members honored as Argentum HAEP All-Stars

Virginia Health Services is proud to share two of our apprentices were selected as Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program (HAEP) All-Stars by Argentum.

Shawn Hill and Valentina Zakieva are two of five selected All-Stars nationally. They were featured in Argentum’s January/February Senior Living Executive magazine and will honored during the Senior Living Executive Conference in New Orleans in May.

They were 2022 participants in Virginia Health Services’ earn-as-you-learn apprenticeship program that graduates Care Assistants to Nurse Aides and covers the cost of the certification exam to be a CNA.

Valentina graduated the program in February 2022 and was placed at York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She passed her certification exam in the spring and over the summer earned her Registered Medication Aide (RMA) license.

Shawn, who graduated to Nurse Aide in the July 2022 cohort, was studying for the certification exam while at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center when a different opportunity came available. He recently moved into an activity assistant role at Coliseum, working with Residents in a different way.

They were nominated to the All-Star program by members of the VHS education center.

“These apprentices exemplified a commitment to service,” said Janet Andrews, Argentum’s HAEP Grant Program Manager, in a written statement. “The testimonies shared depicted the character of those willing to go the extra mile. Those that care for the communities they serve with excellence.”

Valentina Zakieva sits in front of the fireplace at The Hamilton.
Valentina Zakieva is a CNA/RMA at York Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and The Hamilton Assisted Living

The smallest tasks matter

Valentina Zakieva was the salutatorian of her 2022 cohort. She was working at York in the dietary department for six months prior and was encouraged to enroll by Dining Manager Nicole Freeman.

She says she appreciates the teamwork it takes across departments to provide the best possible care to the Residents at York and The Hamilton Assisted Living.

“This honor means people trust me,” she says. “My patients and coworkers like me and see how we work as a team to put our patients first.”

She and her husband moved to the U.S. from Russia. She is originally from Kazakhstan. It wasn’t until the move to the States that Valentina found herself drawn to healthcare.

“My background is international relations, but healthcare is in demand in the U.S.,” she says. “I like to help people.”

She says she had a good experience in the apprenticeship program under the instruction of Nora Gillespie, RN, and Director of Education Princess Henderson, RN. She adds the team at the education center helped her review for the certification exam – “I felt very prepared,” she says – and apply for opportunities within VHS.

Valentina says she takes pride in caring for her Residents and encourages new students in the apprenticeship to “look at the big picture.”

“My background is international relations, but healthcare is in demand in the U.S. I like to help people.”


That means, even if it’s a task that may fall to another department, if it is in the Resident’s interest, take care of it. That could mean taking out the trash or replacing a roll of toilet paper.

“And you have to listen to them. They need you and you want to make them feel good. Brush their hair, get them dressed, take pride and care in what you’re doing,” she says. “If they’re happy, we’re happy.”

She says she’s not stopping at CNA/RMA. She is waiting for documentation issues to be resolved for her to enroll in nursing school.

What path does she want to take?

“Of course, RN,” she says with a smile.

Shawn Hill portrait, seated.
Shawn Hill is the activities assistant at Coliseum Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

Helping Residents creatively

Shawn Hill graduated in the July 2022 cohort and was working at Coliseum as a Nurse Aide when the activity assistant position became available. He was drawn to working with Residents in that capacity because of his interest in arts and crafts – any avenue that allows him to be creative.

“I’m a very creative person. I’ve been doing arts and crafts since kindergarten. I enjoy being around the senior population, have since I was a boy, so it’s been destined to happen. Our Residents love music. They love Bingo.

“I’m still interacting with the Residents, just on a different level.”

He still intends on going to VHS-offered reviews and taking his certification exam to be a CNA.

“I’m not going to give that up. I still have to take the test,” he says.

Shawn says he appreciates the encouragement he has gotten from everyone across departments and facilities at VHS.

“These people really know how to share their heart. I was doing it so long by myself, to get help from the place I work was very touching.”

Shawn Hill of his holiday collections for those in need

“They tell me I’m doing a good job, even if I’ve had a tough day,” he says, referring to Coliseum Administrator Dudley Haas and Assistant Administrator Haley Holland.

He carried his holiday donation tradition to VHS last year, collecting donations of toys and gift cards to distribute to those in need.

“It was so good,” he said. “These people really know how to share their heart. I was doing it so long by myself, to get help from the place I work was very touching. I’d love to expand it and involve more of our team members.”

The apprenticeship and recognition its brought has “meant a whole lot,” he says. “I live by, ‘if you work hard, you never know what will happen.’

“It’s been good all the way through (with Virginia Health Services), from when I first got hired.”

About the program

VHS’s apprenticeship program is done in partnership with Argentum and Hamilton-Ryker, with help from a grant from the Department of Labor. Applications for the next earn-as-you-learn course open Feb. 6. Our six-week courses run throughout the year and details and how to apply can be found at