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The Times
  • Szuba receives distinction for dedication to VHS

  • Dressed in yellow and green choir robes, the Valley Bells performed their unofficial theme song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” during a reception at Valley Health Services on Tuesday.

    The reception honored the bell choir’s founder and conductor, Janice Szuba, who serves as the assistant director of activities and palliative care coordinator at the Herkimer facility.

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  • Dressed in yellow and green choir robes, the Valley Bells performed their unofficial theme song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” during a reception at Valley Health Services on Tuesday.
    The reception honored the bell choir’s founder and conductor, Janice Szuba, who serves as the assistant director of activities and palliative care coordinator at the Herkimer facility.
    “Is music not the universal language? Thanks Jan for bringing music to this facility,” said Lisa Betrus, chief executive officer and administrator of Valley Health Services, after the performance. “We are extraordinarily lucky and extraordinarily proud to work with Jan every day.”
    Szuba has been recognized with the regional Leading Age New York’s Long-Term Care Employee of Distinction Award, an honor that is given by the organization to 16 people a year — two in each region.
    “I’m very elated,” said Szuba, after the reception. “In some ways, I’m very shocked. There’s so many wonderful people who work in this facility. It’s very humbling.”
    Betrus spoke about Szuba’s “love of people and her love of this organization.”
    Szuba has been a Valley Health Services employee for 21 years. She was recognized for dedication to the organization, especially through her creativity through art, music and cooking skills, and for starting “restaurant night.” She was also recognized for the comfort she provides families when they have a relative going through end-of-life care.
    “I have a very supportive family, of which you are all part,” said Szuba, whose voice strained with emotion when accepting the recognition during Tuesday’s reception.
    State Assemblyman Marc Butler said he and state Sen. James Seward passed a resolution to recognize Szuba’s dedication to her job. Butler read part of the resolution which said Szuba deserves “just praise and due recognition” as she continues to improve the quality of life of those in the Empire State.”
    In a news release announcing Szuba’s award, Valley Health Services resident Dorothy Scanlon talked about the kindness she has seen in her.
    “Jan is nice to everyone and is always asking if you need anything,” said Scanlon. “She has a wonderful personality and a smile that lights up a room. She loves organizing and leading the bell choir and makes us feel like the most important people in the world. I love to hear Jan tell stories, but mostly, I love to hear her sing. Like everything else Jan does, her songs come from her heart.”
    Sister Mary Jo Tallman asked those present to extend their right hand to bestow a blessing onto Szuba to “return her to good health.”
    Szuba is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer after coming out of remission. She said her family and doctors are keeping positive.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Working with all these people, they lift me up,” she said. “They’re my strength. The residents, the co-workers, they really truly are a part of my family, just as much as my biological family.”
    Leading Age New York, formerly the New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, stated in a news release the award was created to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of front line staff working in member organizations. Betrus said Valley Health Services had two employees previously receive the same award — Patti Zambri and Lisa Eckler, both certified nursing assistants.
    The award’s purpose is to provide patients, residents and other employees the opportunity to distinguish those individuals who have demonstrated a willingness to make personal sacrifices to improve the lives of others by going beyond the expected to bring a special compassion and personal commitment of excellence to their job each and every day, the release stated.

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