The area's response to the coronavirus cannot come only from the government, Waynesboro Director of Emergency Management Gary Critzer said. Instead, there must be a larger community response and collaboration. That's where the area's new public-private partnership comes in.
"If you look at the function of government, the government simply can't be everything for every need in the community," he said. "It takes a whole team and that's pretty accurate. And that's what we're trying to harness is the power of the community."
Critzer says he was initially contacted by Augusta Health to help establish a partnership in the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro area. The partnership now includes the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, United Way, Augusta Health, CAPSAW, Shenandoah Valley Social Services, the faith based community, officials from Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County, business leaders, and others.
A number of other organizations have also reached out to be involved in the partnership, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth, Critzer said. The team is working to establish an infrastructure to efficiently engage new partners.
A public-private partnership, the Staunton-Augusta County-Waynesboro COVID-19 task force currently includes:
Gary Critzer, task force chair, director of Emergency management, city of Waynesboro
Tim Fitzgerald, administrator, Augusta County
Michael Hamp, manager, city of Waynesboro
Anita Harris, director, Shenandoah Valley Social Services
Margaret Hersh, chair, United Way of Greater Augusta
Scott Just, MD, Augusta Health incident command chief
Dr. Laura Kornegay, director, Central Shenandoah Health District
Dan Layman, CEO, Community Foundation of Central Blue Ridge
Mary Mannix, CEO, Augusta Health
Rev. John Peterson, pastor, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Staunton
Tami Radecke, vice president-community partnerships, Augusta Health
Steve Rosenberg, manager, city of Staunton
Victor Santos, chair, Augusta Health board of directors
Dr. Marc Shields, Augusta Health medical staff
Within the task force, there are several committees that focus on finding solutions to prioritized issues. The group was established a few weeks ago and holds organizational meetings virtually.
Shields is an ophthalmologist in Verona, who joined the task force along with other doctors in the Valley help save lives and decrease suffering — the goal of the task force, he said.