Collaboration and outreach are two areas that make BRMC unique. They have partnered with Region 10 and with Horizon Behavioral Health to better integrate care for those with serious mental illness. Over the years, BRMC has played a key role in creating an inter-agency collaboration among local schools, other health care providers, human service agencies, JABA, MACAA, the Health Department, and the Department of Social Services to identify and prioritize community health needs. As a result, BRMC has gradually moved to a model of integrated care, adding dental, behavioral health, and pharmaceutical care to their suite of services. Overall, BRMC has become better at identifying the specific needs of patients, shaping their services around those needs, and working to equalize disparities in their patients’ access to quality healthcare.


Involvement with CNE


Founded in 1983, the Blue Ridge Medical Center (BRMC) opened its doors in 1985. Its mission is to provide patient-centered quality health care to all people in Nelson County and neighboring areas and to improve their community’s health and well-being through prevention, education, and treatment.

Founding CNE Member

When then CEO Peggy Whitehead first heard about the CNE in 2008, she signed her organization up right away, making BRMC a founding member. Since she first discovered the CNE, Peggy has valued our eNewsletter, appreciating that a useful listing of grants, news about the nonprofit community, and other nonprofit resources are just a click away.

“I read those newsletter every week so I know what CNE is doing. I never delete them because they’re chock full of what I need to know. I read everything in them.”

Peggy Whitehead

Leadership Transition Services

It was through the weekly eNewsletter that Peggy Whitehead found out about the CNE’s Leadership Transition Services. When she became the CEO in 2004, BRMC did not have a succession plan in place, so she was encouraged to find resources at the CNE to begin this important process, especially since she would be transitioning from the CEO position.

“Succession planning has been very impactful for us. Cristine Nardi did an excellent session with our board in 2016 that really drove everything that has happened since. We ended up right on time with the schedule that we laid out on that day. Cristine helped us plan how to do the recruitment process, how to involve the staff, how to transition the board to its new responsibilities, and how to handle the fact that there were both internal and external candidates. All of those questions were addressed. We hired the new CEO, and everything was settled. Then we worked with CNE on the on-boarding process to make that successful. I’m very grateful for the information we received.”

Peggy Whitehead

“The recruitment and on-boarding processes were outstanding in every respect. The way things were handled allowed me to come up-to-speed quickly.”

Randy Pirtle, BRMC CEO

The Value of CNE’s Resources

One of BRMC’s staff members, Brittani Gowen, got a lot from a CNE marketing workshop. As a result, BRMC made changes to their marketing message, conveying more effectively than ever that they are “wide open for new patients.” Advertisements look better and branding is consistent. They even made a TV commercial for the first time.

Peggy attended a Donor Roundtable, an event co-hosted by the CNE and the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation to explore how nonprofits can best work with philanthropists. Peggy found the experience so helpful that she sent one of her board members to a similar event. The result?

“That was an awesome opportunity because I learned a tremendous amount about what donors expect. Not all donors want and expect the same thing, and that came out during the meeting.”

Peggy Whitehead

“It changed our realization of what we should be doing. We’ve made changes and we need to make more. After transitioning to a grant writing position, I’m working more closely with the donor development piece of what BRMC does, so I’m communicating more with the donors who have so generously supported BRMC over the years. I learned a lot about how donors like to be communicated with, and I learned that donors are different. We need to find their preferred means of communication and keep them up-to-date.”

Peggy Whitehead

Another resource that has proved invaluable to Peggy and her team is CNE’s Foundation Center, a database of over 11,000,000 grants made available on-site at CNE. In 2008, BRMC was located in an 8,000 square foot building. Leadership realized that they needed to launch a capital campaign to enlarge their space and increase their capacity. BRMC’s Board Chair spent a lot of time using CNE’s Foundation Center for research into possible grants during that campaign in 2009 and 2010. As a result of diligently using the Foundation Center database, BRMC funded a successful campaign to expand to a 26,800 square foot space. This accomplishment was a key milestone in the organization’s evolution.

Leadership Development

BRMC has always provided its services from its building in Nelson County. Now they are moving in a new direction, hoping to expand their geographic footprint. They are reaching out into Amherst County through the Amherst Wellness Center, and are looking for more co-location opportunities. Overall, they are aiming for a larger regional presence.

Internally, BRMC is working to improve their communication with and among staff. They are engaged in a learning module on that topic, and employee satisfaction surveys. They have developed enough as an organization that they can now focus on operational refinements, such as internal communication tools. Peggy is confident that BRMC will get just what they require from CNE for continued success: “CNE has met and exceeded our expectations. I can’t remember a time that our needs have not been met in the way we expected when we called CNE for help.”

“The CNE has made me a better leader through the years. Everything I’ve ever attended has been extremely valuable, well put together, well organized.  You use the information and you become a little bit more mature every time you attend. You take the notes, you participate in the discussions, and you meet new people. And all of it makes a difference.”

Peggy Whitehead