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Eden Valley Care Center celebrates 25 years in Soledad

SOLEDAD — Eden Valley Care Center is 25 years old and honored the milestone with the staff and community who supported the business over that time.

“This 25 years that we celebrate isn’t of the building, it’s of the people that reside here, it’s of the people that service those folks here,” said Interim Chief Executive Officer Gary Staab. “It’s the people that make this place what it is.”

When mentioning Eden Valley Care Center and the Soledad Community Health Care District, usually former CEO Steve Pritt’s name comes up. Pritt, who died last year, valued his staff and saw the importance of providing incentives for positive work.

Board President Craig Stephens praised the work completed by previous boards, quality health care professionals and the administrative staff.

The District is planning to partner with other health care organizations to meet the changing needs of the community.

The anniversary saw the return of former Board President Gloria Bell, who was on the board that brought the idea of a skilled nursing facility to Soledad. Bell was appointed to the hospital board on Jan. 28, 1981.

“We knew it was a hard impact for people to take their loved ones to Salinas,” Bell said. “Emotionally, financially, plus transportation was hard in those days.”

Having a place in walking distance within city limits was a strong driving force for the entire board. Funding for the facility was already being taken out of residents’ property taxes, but Bell and her board members asked the question of “would the residents pay more for a skilled nursing facility?”. Bell and Jack Franscioni were among the board members to walk door-to-door to gather information from Soledad residents.

“On Feb. 13, 1991, our vision became a reality with the groundbreaking of Eden Valley named after John Steinbeck’s ‘East of Eden’,” Bell stated. “Shortly after we hired Steve Pritt, our first Eden Valley administrator.”

The first resident of Eden Valley Care Center was Helen Ross. The nursing facility faced its struggles and success over the years which brought them to today.

A special recognition went to Franscioni, who still serves on the board today, for his 25 years of service.

“Gloria Bell insisted I joined the health care district,” Franscioni said. “The size of the health care district, from the Greenfield bridge to the Pinnacles to the Salinas Valley State Prison and comes back to the Arroyo Seco.”