Valerie Mac Phee
CentraState Health Care System Board of Trustees
When I was growing up, there weren’t any hospitals in the Freehold area. My two children were both born at another hospital, my daughter in 1966 and my son in 1969. This was around the same time that Freehold Area Hospital was in the planning stages. I thought that building the hospital was such an important milestone for our community that I became a charter member helping to form the Millstone Township Hospital Auxiliary in 1965 to help raise money for the project. My mom was already a member and as soon as I graduated from college in1965, I became more fully involved. When ground was broken to build the hospital, my parents and I attended the ceremony. My father captured the opening of the hospital on film. We were all very proud to be a part of bringing a hospital to the Freehold area.
I have been an advocate for CentraState through its auxiliary, foundation, and board of trustees. I served as president of the Millstone Township Hospital Auxiliary before joining the board of the Freehold Area Hospital Auxiliary (now known as The CentraState Associated Auxiliaries) and eventually serving as its president. I was initially asked to serve on the System Board for CentraState and subsequently asked to serve on the hospital foundation board in 2000. These two positions were and still are a good avenue to meet people, network, and promote the hospital. As a member of the New Jersey Council on Auxiliaries, I had the honor of meeting presidents of other NJ auxiliaries and share ideas for fundraising and networking.
I have many memories of the hospital through the years. I even worked there briefly. I had moved to another state for a while and when I came back in 1971, I needed a job. I interviewed and was offered a job as a receptionist in the emergency department on the first night it opened. I was asked to manage the switchboard and was given keys to the morgue, although I hoped I wouldn’t need to use them! Three patients came in that night, and because I couldn’t hear the ambulances coming, it startled me every time the doors to the ER opened. A short time later I was offered a job in the musical field that I was trained in. I decided to accept a position teaching music in Jackson Township, NJ and still continued my efforts to support my hospital.
On the board of trustees, our biggest challenge is making decisions about how the hospital will move forward. Several former CEO’s and Mr. Gribbin have done an amazing job of moving our hospital forward and keeping it a community hospital. Upon Mr. Gribbin’s retirement, we have selected Mr. Scott to carry on our mission and I know we are in very capable hands.
In my opinion, one of the best decisions was the addition of the Wellness Center and creating the history wall that connects the hospital to the wellness center. I am extremely proud of our nurses who have achieved Magnet status four times. They are so compassionate and loving, and I don’t think they get enough credit for all that they do.
When I’m out in the community and someone has a comment or complaint about the hospital, I tell them to write to the administration. If the administration doesn’t know about a problem, they can’t fix it. On a positive note, it’s always good to hear that we’re doing well.