Shepherd of the Valley marks 40th anniversary

By Jamison Cocklin


A local health care services organization that serves senior citizens throughout the Mahoning Valley is marking its 40th anniversary this year.

Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Retirement Services Inc., with locations in Niles, Poland, Boardman and Howland, says it has managed success since 1972 when it was first established, even as health care has grown to encompass a network of complexities and changing policies.

“Financially, even though we are nonprofit, we know we have to run as a business and not overextend, overspend, or overexpand,” said Don Kacmar, longtime executive director. “We have learned to provide quality care, purchase new equipment and maintain and enhance our facilities within the budget provided, even though it is never easy.”

Shepherd of the Valley, which serves a total of 850 patients with services such as independent and assisted living, nursing and rehabilitation services and home health care, has already had a number of events to honor the anniversary.

In March, its 480 employees were recognized with a dinner. Open houses at its Poland and Howland living facilities are scheduled through August, and a gathering will be Sept. 16 at the Zion Lutheran Church, 3300 Canfield Road, Youngstown, where the organization’s founders will speak.

Kacmar said although Shepherd of the Valley is affiliated with the Lutheran Church, his organization serves all denominations, regardless of religious orientation. Lutheran agencies are among some of the largest health-service providers in the country, Kacmar said.

In highlighting just some of the changing landscape in his organization’s history, Kacmar discussed the Supreme Court’s landmark decision June 28 to uphold the government’s health care overhaul, which requires every American to purchase health insurance or face a penalty by 2014, and some of the legislation’s other implications for his industry.

“As an employer, we provide a good health plan for our staff,” he said in an email. “Going forward, the [health care overhaul] may negatively impact the cost of our plan.”

He added, “As a service provider to seniors, we expect to see even more dependence on managed care and Medicaid sources of payment, which is often inadequate to support the cost of caring for more medically complicated conditions.”

Despite such changes, Shepherd of the Valley “looks forward to another 40 years,” he said.

Locally owned and operated since its incorporation, Shepherd of the Valley began in 1972 when its founders purchased a 120-bed nursing facility and 54 independent apartments in Niles, in order to better serve the Valley’s elderly.

“It’s been a rewarding and challenging opportunity and we’ve served a lot people over the years,” Kacmar said. “It’s something we’re very proud of.”

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