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Local News: Downey named new BRCC president
State News: Kaine announces formation of health network
Local News: Musikgarten classes at EMU  


Local News: Downey named new BRCC president

Dr. John A. Downey, of Harrisonburg, will become the next president of Blue Ridge Community College.

Downey, who has worked as BRCC’s vice president for instruction and student services for the past four years, will become the college’s president effective Aug. 3, 2009.

“Our college is truly privileged. A lot of really talented people were interested in becoming the next president of Blue Ridge Community College,” said Kathy Whitten, the chair of the Blue Ridge Community College Local Board. “I believe we selected the best of the best. John has done outstanding work during his time at BRCC and we expect that to continue.”

“I’m delighted to appoint John as the next president of Blue Ridge Community College. He’s already a highly regarded leader in our college system and he brings to the table the right qualities and skills to lead the college forward,” said Glenn DuBois, the chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Dr. Downey’s previous experience includes serving as BRCC’s dean of health and human services from 2002-2005. He was the college’s interim vice president for instruction and student services in 2000-2001 and was coordinator of counseling services there from 1995-2000. He began his career at Blue Ridge as disability services coordinator and academic counselor in 1992. Prior to joining the college, he was director of student activities at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Mass.

He has a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Virginia; a master’s degree from Boston College and a bachelor’s degree from Le Moyne College in Syracuse.

“I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the president of a community college that I love in a community that I love,” said Downey. “Over the years, I have worked with terrific people throughout the Valley on behalf of BRCC. I’m excited to continue that.”

Dr. Downey will become the fifth president of Blue Ridge Community College, following Dr. Jim Perkins who is retiring after serving as the college’s president for 20 years.


State News: Kaine announces formation of health network

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has announced the creation of the Virginia Health Exchange Network (VHEN). VHEN’s secure web portal will connect Virginia health plans, health systems, and state agencies to standardize and streamline health care administrative transactions. By establishing a single collaborative network, VHEN is expected to lower costs and improve overall service quality across the Commonwealth.

“Virginia has already demonstrated we can be a leader in the health technology field—VHEN places the Commonwealth at the front of the pack by implementing measurable and relevant changes to our health care infrastructure,” Gov. Kaine said. “More broadly, the agreement between Virginia health plans—both public and private— demonstrates our commitment to the President’s call to reduce health care costs nationwide.”

Following a competitive evaluation and selection process, Availity LLC has been chosen to partner with VHEN to provide Virginia’s physicians, hospitals, and allied healthcare providers with eligibility and benefits for individual patients through the Availity Health Information Network.

Most private health plans and public payers are expected to participate in the VHEN program, which allows healthcare providers to determine eligibility status, level of benefits, and other critical information in real-time through a secure web portal. By using a single web portal across the Commonwealth, the system should eliminate paperwork and unnecessary phone calls, while helping providers and their support staff become more efficient in their daily work flow.

The network also provides a platform for expansion into other services, including populating health records and financial management. Future plans include identifying a real time solution to identify patient insurance coverage when it may be unknown or unavailable so that healthcare benefits can be accessed more easily.

“The health plan members of VHEN are thrilled to be able to offer this service to healthcare providers in Virginia,” said C. Burke King, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “By bringing together health plans, provider networks, and hospital systems from around the Commonwealth, we are building a foundation for healthcare quality improvement and administrative simplification, allowing providers to focus on patients, not paperwork.”

“Administrative transactions represent the low-hanging fruit of health care information technology and we are very pleased with the spirit of collaboration that has been demonstrated by the health plan and provider community in Virginia to find and pursue opportunities for mutual cost-saving—now it’s time for us to deliver together,” said John Duval, CEO of Medical College of Virginia Hospitals of VCU Medical Center and Secretary/Treasurer of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association.

“Information technology is a critical component to healthcare reform, creating opportunities to improve health quality and control costs for patients, physicians, and health plans,” said Julie Klapstein, Chief Executive Officer at Availity. “Availity has worked hard to optimize efficiencies and cost savings in the physician and health plan relationships. This public/private community collaborative creates great opportunities for Virginia to lead in administrative simplification and health IT.”

“Our community has devoted significant time and attention to administrative simplification. The kind of effort being launched in Virginia is what is needed to make getting medical care and providing medical care simpler and less costly,” said America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) President and CEO Karen Ignagni. “Very soon, we will be announcing pilot projects in two other states with health plans and physicians working together.”

For more information on VHEN, please visit:

For more information on Availity, please visit:


Local News: Musikgarten classes at EMU

Musikgarten at Eastern Mennonite University is holding summer classes for children up through age 7. Several classes offered in July and August will be taught by Christa Stoner or Martha Hills. Children will have a variety of musical experiences featuring summer themes in a fun, supportive environment.

For registration information, call 540.432.4227 or visit

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