Gov. Justice, State healthcare leaders provide update on “Saving Our Care” initiative

CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice and members of the West Virginia COVID-19 pandemic response leadership team held another news briefing Thursday to update the public on the State’s latest pandemic response efforts.

During Thursday’s briefing, Gov. Justice was joined by DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch and executives representing several hospital systems across West Virginia to provide an update on the progress being made to stand up the Governor’s recently announced “Saving Our Care” initiative.

The program will provide financial and staffing support to ensure the stability of hospitals and nursing homes to avoid the need for rationing care.

“This program is going to do incredible stuff for our hospitals and nursing homes,” Gov. Justice said.

“We had a meeting with hospital folks last week and sorted out a methodology so we can be sure we’re eliminating any overlap of funding,” Secretary Crouch said. “DHHR will provide support, covering some of the hospitals’ additional costs and staff hired through staffing agencies, overtime for existing staff, and some of the retention efforts that hospitals have entered into to try to keep the staff that they have.

“I want to thank all the hospitals who have struggled throughout this pandemic, and the hospital staff who have consistently, as the Governor says, run to the fire for 583 days now,” Secretary Crouch continued.

Gov. Justice and Secretary Crouch were joined Thursday by Albert Wright, president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System; Dave Ramsey, president and CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center; and Kevin Yingling, CEO of Mountain Health Network and president of Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center.

“This current surge has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever seen in my 25-year career,” Wright said. “We appreciate the efforts of Secretary Crouch and especially the efforts of Governor Justice to recognize the challenges we’re facing in this current surge and to help with some resources and funding.”

“I just have to applaud Governor Justice and his team of advisors for the great job they’ve done in leading the state through the COVID pandemic,” Wright continued. “I speak on behalf of all of our employees and lots of hospitals around the state in saying that we’re very pleased and thankful for the Governor’s leadership.”

“I wanted to just extend a thank you to the Governor,” Ramsey said. “What you’re doing today with ‘Saving Our Care’ is very meaningful to CAMC and hospitals across the state. The recognition of how important hospitals are to the fight against COVID and the challenges we face caring for all West Virginians, day in and day out, is really very important to us.”

“I also want to thank you for all you’ve done over the past 20 months,” Ramsey continued. “We’re still fighting the good fight, and we will get through this with your leadership and the team that you pulled together.”

“The first thing I want to thank you for is your effective leadership and for bringing vaccination opportunities to every citizen in West Virginia,” Yingling said. “Additionally, your efforts in identifying the crisis within the hospital systems is absolutely essential.”

“There’s actually some similarity between being a governor and being a physician,” Yingling continued. “A governor is expected to make diagnoses and prescribe treatments, and I want to commend you, Governor Justice, on the fact that you identified that the ‘Saving Our Care’ model was necessary. That’s your diagnosis. And the therapy for that is to address the crises within our hospitals.”

“I truly am humbled just to think about all the great work that the people in our hospitals have done,” Gov. Justice said. “All the folks that have gone right into the fire, every single day, to protect and look after each and every one of us, the stuff they’ve done is unbelievable. I say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”