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A ‘Prime Time’ for a new opportunity

Trudy Wilson assumes duties as director of Prime Time

ON A NEW MISSION — Trudy Wilson has spent the last four and a half years as the executive director of the Ohio Valley Health Center, an organization that provides high-quality health care to uninsured and underinsured individuals and families in the Ohio Valley, regardless of their ability to pay. In recent weeks, however, Wilson has since assumed the duties of director of the Prime Time Office on Aging for Jefferson County with the retirement of Judy Owings. -- Janice Kiaski

STEUBENVILLE — There’s a “prime time” for most everything.

And a season as well, a school of thought Trudy Wilson entertains as she makes a leadership role switch to begin a new mission.

After four and a half years as executive director of the Ohio Valley Health Center, located at 423 South St., Wilson has assumed duties as director of the Prime Time Agency on Aging, a position vacated by the newly retired Judy Owings.

The change prompts reflection and review balanced by plans and possibilities.

“I believe I was placed at the Ohio Valley Health Center for a specific season — to help strengthen the organizational infrastructure of the clinic and to move it to a permanent location in downtown Steubenville, the heart of its target demographic,” Wilson said of the facility that provides high-quality health care to uninsured and underinsured individuals and families in the Ohio Valley, regardless of their ability to pay.

“The clinic operates with an all-volunteer provider staff — doctors and nurse practitioners of great skill and knowledge. It was definitely difficult to make a decision to leave the clinic for this new opportunity to lead the Prime Time Agency on Aging for Jefferson County, a division of Trinity Health System,” she said.

Wilson became the health center’s executive director in December 2015, ironically replacing Ann Quillen, who now returns to serve as the center’s interim director.

Quillen had been the executive director for seven years when the then Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center was operating from Trinity Medical Center East, and before that at its original location downtown at 701 N. Fourth St. The health center opened its doors on March 10, 2006, with Diann Schmitt serving as the initial executive director.

“I am passionate about providing health care to low-income, uninsured patients,” Wilson said. “It made us think outside the box to meet all their needs. It was a pleasure getting to know the patients and a joy to work with my colleagues at the clinic. We became a work family,” she added.

“The Ohio Valley Health Center board of directors is strong and productive and gave great support to me as the executive director,” she said. “The board has a great transition plan in place until a new executive director is hired, by inviting former OVHC Executive Director Ann Quillen to come back on a part-time, temporary basis to ensure a smooth transition without having any disruption of services to OVHC patients.”

Getting a stronger, more fully functional administrative board was one accomplishment Wilson cited as happening during her time at the health center, while “finding a new permanent location was one of the biggest things I helped them do.” That involved acquiring the former Neighborhood House Daycare at 423 South St. in April 2017 and the renovation that followed.

“We moved in in December of 2018,” she said.

“I feel like I’ve left the clinic in a solid place,” Wilson noted. “I felt like it was OK for me to leave at that point, and I truly do believe that you’re put in a place for a season to do a specific job, and when that job is done, it’s time for the next person to come in and do the next step, and I felt like it was the right time for me to make that change.”

Wilson is a Toronto native who graduated from Toronto High School before earning an associate degree in business technology at the former Jefferson Technical College. She then earned bachelor’s degrees in office management and business administration at the Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville.

She went on to earn her master’s degree at the University of Phoenix Graduate School of Business and Management, working about 25 years in the nonprofit sector. Some of her more high-profile positions included working for Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., and for the Lower Lights Christian Health Center, a federal qualities health center headquartered in Columbus. Wilson started there as director of development and transitioned to chief consultant advancement.

Her new job with Prime Time — the center is located at 300 Lovers Lane — involves a learning curve — “a big one,” she said.

Wilson’s previous two jobs, for example, involved the administration of clinical care. “These are elderly care programs (at Prime Time), and they’re not all medical related so it’s a big learning curve,” she noted.

But the jobs are similar as they entail demonstrating compassion for others in what is a ministry of sorts against a backdrop of helping people. “It is just a different delivery,” she said of the center existing to provide a variety of services and socialization.

Wilson had some “shadow time” with Owings during the leadership transition.

“I was able to work with Judy for about two weeks as she was preparing to retire, so I worked both places to help prepare the clinic to be ready for when I left and to transition into this position as well, so I feel like I have big shoes to fill,” she said.

“Judy was synonymous with Prime Time, and so I’ve got a lot to learn. Fortunately, I have some good employees here who know their jobs and how to do them, and so I learn from them as well.”

Despite the center not having the usual programs in place or sit-down lunches on site, meal deliveries, for instance, are in high gear as are the “Grab-N-Go Lunches” offered to its members and seven congregate sites in response to implementing the nutrition program in the wake of coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

“We’re probably busier now than we were before because we’ve had some additional people added in that needed meal delivery at home so that’s one piece that we’ve really kept going and keep adding people weekly,” Wilson explained, noting the home deliveries also afford an opportunity to make sure seniors are checked on and are OK.

The center continues to help, for example, with transportation to medical appointments, grocery deliveries and staying connected, whether it’s cards sent and calls made or birthday wishes communicated through conference calls.

“It’s just helping them in general be part of a social group, be part of a society, especially if they don’t have family close or can’t get out much.”

In citing key goals for Prime Time, Wilson identified facility upgrades chief among them, including making the bathrooms handicap accessible.

“I think the top goal right now for me is focusing on renovation of the building,” she said. “We want to upgrade our bathrooms to be handicap accessible — they’re not. They were kind of grandfathered in, and now we have to get those bathrooms handicap accessible and make our building more compliant with the disabilities act, so that’s a big goal of mine as are some repairs. The building is getting older so there are some needed roof repairs and things we really have to work on.”

The center has been closed since March 13 because of precautions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That downtime suits facility renovations.

“It’s a perfect time to make our facility more accessible to our clients and to update and make necessary repairs to the building while we are practicing safe distancing,” Wilson said. “Thanks to a grant from the Mary Jane Brooks Charitable Trust, we are able to make some of these greatly needed renovations. A grant from the Pugliese Charitable Foundation has allowed us to update our meals and travel software. Prime Time is grateful to both of these organizations for their generosity to the senior citizens of Jefferson County,” she added.

“Another thing that we’re working to do is a lot of people don’t know that Prime Time is part of Trinity’s health care system, and so we’re going through a rebranding where it shows that we are a division of Trinity Health System and so I think that opens up a lot of opportunities for Prime Time as well as for the hospital,” Wilson explained.

“I am looking forward to working with Trinity’s leadership team to provide resources and information about Prime Time to elderly patients being discharged from the hospital by offering additional wellness services and potential home meal delivery to aid in continued wellness after leaving the hospital,” Wilson said. “By working together, Prime Time and Trinity Health System can offer the best possible health outcomes, services and resources for our aging population in Jefferson County.”

How soon the Prime Time Center will reopen remains an unknown.

“I think we are looking at the same guidelines as every other congregate-type site looks at from the state of Ohio,” Wilson said. “We are beginning to have some meetings back in the building, and community lab draws are back on the second Wednesday of every month from 6 a.m. until noon.”

Wilson is excited at the prospect of some return to normalcy at the center, though, describing it as “a weird time because we’re a social organization, and we’re not allowed to be (social) right now.”

“There is so much available through Prime Time for senior citizens of Jefferson County, and I am looking forward to getting that information out and developing more programs and services to bridge the gaps often experienced by our senior population,” Wilson said.

“Without the people of Jefferson County we wouldn’t have Prime Time,” Wilson said of the levy that helps fund it. “That’s important for people to know, and then we do get some funding through the Area Agency on Aging. We get a block grant from them to administer a lot of our programs.”

The Prime Time Center is open to people 50 and older and has about 1,200 members. The annual membership fee for Jefferson County residents is $25 a year unless they’re under 60. Then it’s $35. The membership fee is $35 as well for those who live outside the county. The phone number is (740) 314-5197.

(Kiaski can be contacted at jkiaski@heraldstaronline.com.)

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