ALAMOSA— Community members filled the Valley-Wide Health Systems (VWHS) offices last Thursday evening to recognize retiring President/CEO Gigi Darricades and welcome new President/CEO Jania Arnoldi.
VWHS Board Chair Frances Valdez recounted Darricades’ accomplishments as leader of the healthcare organization since taking the reins in April 2011. She came into the position of leadership with three decades of experience in healthcare and law. She has led the community health network serving 15 rural counties with 13 medical clinics and eight dental clinics, in addition to an array of support services.
Under her leadership VWHS has expanded its health outreach throughout southern Colorado and integrated medical and behavioral health services.
Darricades led the organization through the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid. She has served on numerous boards including the Colorado Community Health Network Board, giving a strong voice for rural Colorado, the Medicaid Provider Rate Review Advisory Committee, Colorado Foundation for Universal Health Care, Colorado Community Managed Care Network, SLV Federal Bank and Adams State University Board of Trustees.
Darricades recently received the 2018 Stanley J. Brasher Legacy Award for her dedication to solving the problems of health, poverty, and human rights.
“Most important is her passion, her commitment, to the communities and the people Valley-Wide Health Systems serves,” Valdez said. “It is infectious.”
She added that Darricades was a courageous leader and “exceptional human being who has made a lasting positive impact in rural healthcare.”
Valdez said Darricades leaves a legacy of strong moral principles of honesty and integrity.
Darricades thanked the board and varied members of staff who work for Valley-Wide. “We just have some amazing leadership in this organization,” she said.
She also commended the employees for their passion in caring for the patients served by Valley-Wide, and she acknowledged the partnerships VWHS has in the community.
Her husband Mike Gibson thanked the community for its support through the last eight years and especially during the last few years as his wife dealt with cancer. “She couldn’t have done it without your support,” he told the audience, “and I couldn’t have done it without your support either.”
Valdez introduced Arnoldi, who has 19 years’ experience in healthcare leadership most recently serving as chief financial officer for Sun Life Family Health Center, a not-for-profit community health center in Casa Grande, Arizona. Very similar to VWHS, Sun Life provides medical and integrated services to 14 locations in rural communities.
Arnoldi has served on several boards in Arizona including chairing the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers Finance Officer Group.
Valdez said Arnoldi has a passion for healthcare organizations like Valley-Wide and the role they play in serving underserved people in rural areas. She said Arnoldi is a great fit for Valley-Wide.
Arnoldi thanked the VWHS board for giving her the opportunity to serve here. “I am excited,” she said. “So far I love Alamosa, and the weather hasn’t bothered me at all.”
She also thanked Darricades for making her feel welcome and for her leadership.