The Board of Directors at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital has appointed Avah Stalnaker, of Weston, as chief executive officers for the Weston facility.
She has served as associate administrator since 1990 for the 70-bed hospital. She replaces David D. Shaffer, who retired in December 2011.
As the new administrator, Stalnaker's goals revolve around maintaining the financial strength of the hospital. That effort includes the recruiting of physicians; improving the appearance of the U.S. 33 facility; and continuing to give quality care and great customer service to patients.
"Our goal is to build a new hospital in the near future and all of these goals are integral to our financial soundness," she said.
She noted that the economic benefit SJMH provides for the area is substantial.
"Stonewall is one of the larger employers in the county, with 520 people. Our payroll is approximately $20,000,000 annually," she said. "We delivered 330 babies in 2011. More than 15,000 patients used our Emergency Department last year. Those kinds of statistics are a testament to the economic engine that we are for the area."
Stalnaker is very familiar with all aspects of SJMH, since she began work as a nurse's aid in May 1972. While working part-time, she also studied nursing at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She graduated with her WVWC nursing degree in 1977. Her first full-time nursing position was as a staff nurse on the first floor of the hospital. In 1985, she began pursuing a graduate degree and obtained a master's degree in healthcare administration from the University of Minnesota in 1991.
Before stepping into the associate administrator position, Stalnaker accrued a wealth of experience in many aspects of health care. Some of those positions included clinical instructor for nursing students at Salem College; staff nurse in the SJMH medical, surgical, emergency and obstetrics units; supervisor of medical and intensive care units; nursing supervisor and IV therapist supervisor; assistant director of nursing; and acting director of nursing.
During her 21 years as associate administrator, she added to her resume with responsibilities including the recruitment of physicians for SJMH. An indication of her abilities is that she was able to recruit at least 30 new physicians during her tenure as associate administrator - an important factor in the hospital's success. She was responsible for the management of physician offices. Six clinical departments and five ancillary departments reported to her.
One of those new physicians is orthopedic surgeon Dr. Doyle R. Sickles.
"Avah has been very helpful and receptive to my employment here," he said. "If it wasn't for her I wouldn't be here. She listens and is very kind."
Stalnaker managed three major hospital renovations and two smaller projects during that time. In the fall of 2010, she spearheaded a remodeling project for areas of the 40-year old building including patient rooms, front lobby, Theresa Snaith Gift Shop and administrative area.
She is a member of the marketing, ethics, finance, medical executive, Joint Commission, HIPAA and corporate compliance committees.
During her career, Stalnaker has exhibited the qualities of a good leader with her open mindedness, dedication, assertiveness, integrity, humility and a sense of humor. With her leadership ability and vast knowledge of all aspects of Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital, she was the perfect choice for the SJMH Board of Directors.
Jean Bennett, who has been a board member for at least 20 years, had good things to say about her.
"Avah is an exceptional leader," Bennett said. "She was certainly the right choice to take over the reins because she knows it all."
Stalnaker has been a very active member of the Lewis County community. She coordinated the annual Weston Rotary Club blood screening for years. She has served as a member and officer of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce and was named Chamber Member of the Year in 1993. She was a Lewis County United Way board member and also chairwoman of the campaign in 1994-1995. She also served on the Lewis County Economic Development Authority.
She is married to Jerry A. Stalnaker and they live in Weston. They have three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Avah Stalnaker is the daughter of the late Matthew and Avah Arbogast, of Weston. Her five siblings include: Margaret Watson, the late Matthew Joseph Arbogast, the late Michael Arbogast, David Arbogast and George Arbogast.