Bay Aging’s CEO Wins National Award

Two woman one holding award
From left: Sandy Markwood, USAging CEO and Kathy Vesley, Bay Aging President and CEO

Bay Aging’s President & CEO, Kathy Vesley, was selected as USAging’s Excellence in Leadership Award recipient for 2023. Her nomination was supported by Bay Aging staff and several community leaders including congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03). In his letter to the USAging’s award selection committee, Congressman Bobby Scott stated, “Bay Aging has been a shining example of how an Agency on Aging can assist seniors live their goldens years with dignity they have rightfully earned.” This prestigious national award recognizes Vesley’s efforts to advance the mission of the Older Americans Act, and was presented to Vesley by Sandy Markwood, USAging CEO, on July 16 at the USAging Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Kathy Vesley leads a multi-county, diversified Area Agency on Aging, employing over 350 people. She is a visionary and practical executive of great skill who, through innovative thinking, data-informed knowledge, and intense drive has fueled Bay Aging’s impact on its planning and service area, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the USAging network by expanding capacity to address the critical issues faced by older adults, people with disabilities, and those of all ages who are disadvantaged economically.

Vesley joined Bay Aging in 1998 as Chief Operating Officer following nearly two decades in leadership positions in state government, including the Acting Director of the Department for Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Deputy Commissioner for the Virginia Department for the Aging. Her most significant accomplishment from those years endures today: Virginia Relay, the statewide telecommunications relay system established through her advocacy, action, and superior negotiation skills generating sustained corporate financial support.

Vesley’s initial contracting venture in 2009, while COO, was with the Veterans Administration to provide Financial Management Services and Options Counseling for Veteran Directed Care (VDC). Starting with just four local veterans, today the program serves 600 Veterans in seven states and the Virgin Islands. VDC serves eligible veterans of any age who are at risk of nursing home placement and helps veterans continue to live in their homes and communities for as long as possible by allowing veterans to choose their own paid caregivers, including family members.

Appointed President & CEO in 2011, Vesley foresaw the declining ability of typical aging funding streams to meet the growing needs of older Americans. She understood Bay Aging, AAAs, and community-based organizations throughout U.S. Aging network needed to shift to more sustainable funding strategies. She also recognized that as a single AAA serving a rural area, partnerships were essential to achieve the scale she envisioned. Employing her knowledge of revenue sources, experience in building relationships, and with the support from her Board of Directors, she began building new funding streams to support vulnerable populations.

In 2012, with funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center Community-Based Care Transitions Program (CCTP), Vesley spearheaded the development of the Eastern Virginia Care Transitions Partnership (EVCTP) with four other AAAs, five health systems, 11 hospitals and 69 skilled nursing facilities covering 20% of Virginia. EVCTP completed over 26,000 in-home visits and reduced readmission rates from 18.2% to 8.9% among Medicare beneficiaries, saving CMS over $20 million.

The Virginia Center for Health Innovations, in 2015, recognizing EVCTP’s success, requested Vesley to develop a statewide plan for transitional care services. Integral to the plan was building the capacity of AAAs statewide. Through her leadership VAAACares® was established, developing the value proposition of a trusted, high-quality, cost-effective, community-based network for Managed Care Organizations and health systems to meet the Health-Related Social Needs (HRSNs) of their members. Additionally, she successfully advocated for Virginia’s capitated Medicaid Program to offer the opportunity for AAAs to provide HRSN services for people not only living in the community but also in long term-care facilities.

Carefully led successful negotiations with multiple MCOs, and painstaking attention to delivering consistent, quality services, resulted in the VAAACares® partnership becoming a reliable and sought-after statewide community-based provider. Over 45,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients have been assisted by VAAACares®, to date. For this work, in 2017, VAAACares® received the John A. Hartford Foundation Business Innovation Award.

The work continues, as does Vesley’s vision of older adults achieving positive health outcomes, better health care self-management, and greater independence. Awarded one of 11 two-year national grants in 2021 from the Administration for Community Living to act as a Community Care Hub for a statewide Community Integrated Health Network, Bay Aging has assembled a collaborative of over 250 stakeholders representing 100 organizations throughout Virginia, including health plans, health care entities, community-based organizations, and consumers.

VAAACares®, Virginia’s Community Care Hub, is now well positioned to contract with Managed Care Organizations, Health Systems, and other private-pay organizations to provide the much-needed HRSN programs and services critical for people of all ages as Virginia begins its next iteration of integrated Medicaid managed care: Cardinal Care.

“She has been a transformative figure for the organization, and she has been largely responsible for Bay Aging’s transition from relying solely on grants, government appropriations and donations to a more sustainable business model.” said Congressman Bobby Scott. “Because of her vision and strong execution, Bay Aging has expanded its services to include resources for senior housing, housing support services and transportation. “

Bay Aging’s mission is to provide the programs and services people of all ages need to live independently in their communities. As we celebrate Bay Aging’s 45th anniversary, Bay Aging continues Vesley’s vision by making tremendous strides to provide much-needed assistance for those in our community. Last year, Bay Aging prevented 137 people from facing homelessness with rapid re-housing services, delivered over 185,000 meals to homebound older adults, provided over 41,000 hours of day care and in-home personal care, offering respite to caregivers as well as individual and counseling and supports, and provided over 127,000 rides to people of all ages commuting to work, healthcare, shopping, and more!

Meals on Wheels may be Bay Aging’s most well-known service, but the benefits of meals on Wheels extend beyond the obvious. Bay Aging’s dedicated volunteers provide friendly visits and safety checks, while delivering meals, nourishing souls as well as bodies. As documented by the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent advisory on loneliness, social connection is essential for good health. Bay Aging welcomes new volunteers. If you’d like to brighten the day of an older adult in your community by delivering food and a smile, call Bay Aging at 800-493-0238.

Recently, Bay Transit rolled out a service called Bay Transit Express, which is similar to Uber and Lyft. Bay Transit Express serves the area from Gloucester Courthouse to Gloucester Point and operates Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Popular destinations include Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, Walmart, Gloucester High School, Urgent Care, Kroger, Walgreens, and Food Lion. Rides are one dollar per trip and can be booked straight from your phone! To learn more about Bay Transit Express, download the Bay Transit Express app, visit www.BayTransit.org/Express or call Bay Transit’s Gloucester Office at 804-693-6977.

In June, Bay Aging’s Housing Division celebrated the grand opening of Daffodil Gardens II, their eleventh service-enriched rental housing community for older adults. These apartments provide affordable housing that is safe, energy-efficient, and enjoyable. Housing also operates one workforce housing complex, provides Homeless Solutions, supports emergency home repairs, manages Housing Choice Vouchers, and offers weatherization services.

Bay Aging newest initiative is caregiver support. Bay Aging recognizes the need to support caregivers of all income levels in the community. Bay Aging offers support groups, Caregiving 101 class, and Adult Day Care for those who need respite. The schedule for free support caregiver groups is available on Bay Aging Facebook page in the events section. Call us at 800-493-0238.

Vesley’s optimism, excitement, and enthusiasm impact everyone she engages. Highly respected by her staff, colleagues, policy makers and business partners, she exemplifies quality leadership and serves as a role model and mentor to all. A sought-after speaker, she generously shares her knowledge and experiences with individuals, organizations, and governments at all levels.

Vesley is an experienced leader who grasps Virginia’s and America’s changing health, and human service needs and emerging policy and financing models. She combines astute business acumen, a commitment to quality care as evidenced by Bay Aging’s National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) accreditation of Case Management for Long-Term Services and Supports, and a servant-leader’s compassion and connection to her staff and those she serves. She is a nationally recognized leader by the Archdale Foundation Award for Innovation and Patient Care in the Community and multiple other organizations.

Vesley’s servant leadership extends to her personal life where she was named Grand Marshal for the 65th Urbanna Oyster Festival in 2022 and was trusted by her community’s leaders to be a judge for the Little Miss Spat and Oyster Queen competition. Vesley claims being named grand marshal as the highlight of her life, second only to meeting President Jimmy Carter.

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