[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNoVa or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

In honor of his 36 years of service with Virginia Hospital Center – including two decades as president/CEO – the hospital has launched the James B. Cole Healthcare Education Fund, which already has raised more than $700,000 towards advancing education and retaining high performers in health care.

“The James B. Cole Healthcare Education Fund is, in my opinion, the perfect way to recognize both our community and the hospital staff, supporting training for our wonderful employees and ensuring quality health care is available to area residents,” said Russell McWey, M.D., chairman of the Virginia Hospital Center board of directors.

With the health-care industry losing more than 500,000 workers since 2020, the fund aims to assist the hospital in recognizing high-performers who aspire to careers in health care. Additionally, it will support professional development, certification and the pursuit of meeting academic requirements toward earning a college degree for those who may not qualify for other existing VHC funds.

“Investing in Virginia Hospital Center employees allows us to grow our own,” said Tony Burchard, president of the Virginia Hospital Center Health System Foundation. “Through this fund, the hospital can recruit and retain highly motivated individuals who will allow us to continue to provide the best care available to our community.”

“The community that Jim Cole has built at Virginia Hospital Center is truly remarkable,” said Richard Pollack, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “The example that he has set as a leader in the field is one that truly values the contributions of employees at any level, and this fund will have a lasting impact at both Virginia Hospital Center and as an exemplar for other hospitals.”

Cole had planned on retiring in 2020, but the onset of the pandemic caused him to delay his plans in order to steer the hospital through the rocky shoals of COVID.

“As I reflect on my time at Virginia Hospital Center, I have immense gratitude for the support the hospital has had from the community, and for the dedication of our employees to providing patient-centered, top-quality care,” Cole said.