CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state DHHR says it will have a plan of action for the state’s two psychiatric hospitals by a Kanawha County circuit judge’s May 30 deadline.

Circuit Judge Duke Bloom ordered the DHHR last week to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with staffing shortages at Sharpe Hospital in Weston and Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington. Both have more than 40 vacancies.

File photo

Sharpe Hospital, pictured here, and Bateman Hospital in Huntington have more than 40 vacancies.

Vickie Jones, the commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, told MetroNews the agency has been working on a plan for several months. But she said it’s more than just about just filling vacancies.

“We want to make sure that our employees, and in turn our patients, are satisfied with the jobs they have as well as the care they are receiving,” Jones said.

Judge Bloom told the bureau last week he didn’t want to hear excuses or he would come out with his own plan. Jones said the DHHR has been looking at what the workers are paid and how much they have to work.

“It’s not just the vacancies but quite frankly the employee satisfaction with jobs overall,” she said.

There are ‘direct care’ positions open at the two hospitals along with other jobs that aren’t tied directly to patients. Jones said filling the jobs is a problem nationwide.

The commissioner said the next step is to take the plan they’ve been working on and finish it by the judge’s May 30 deadline and be ready for him to review it at a June 11 court hearing.

“Not only meeting with all parties but too receive input from all parties,” Jones said. “In order to implement something that is acceptable to everyone.”

Jones said despite the high number of vacancies, Sharpe and Bateman both provide “excellent” quality of care.

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  • Patty

    It should be our goal to provide a safe therapeutic environment for the staff as well as the patients, but when staff have to work so much overtime because there is not enough staff to go around for what ever reasons staff get burn out. The reason that people are patients is because they pose a threat to themselves or others, not all patients are forensic but left untreated and in society most will become a forensic patient.
    You would think that as a state that you would want a better future for your people. But when your state workers live in poverty and work so many hours there is no time for family , there is no extra to better the education of our future children I see a vicious cycle if we continue like this.
    A young person coming out of high school can go get a CDL licenses and go to work making on the lower end of the pay scale 50,000. a year. A young person with a CNA comes out of school and makes half that per year and that is the higher end of the pay scale. So people are not commodities not something that can be brought and sold but staffing tells a differt store at Sharpe and Bateman.

  • the truth

    You can lay this at the feet of Manchin and Tomblin. Both have starved out frontline staff but take care of their inner circle cronies. The health service worker pay is less than fast food pay but is dangerous due to forensic patients. Nurses make thousands less than private sector. You also are forced overtime since you cannot keep any staff. In all state positions you get nothing for dedication and hard work because you cannot get a raise based on merit. Tomblin specifically forbids this type of raise. People need to also ask how much in lawsuits have been paid out because of "incidents" at facilities.

  • DWL

    DHHR plan - open the doors wide so all the "tards" & druggies can roam freely about. This is the same DHHR that totally wrecked the juvenile justice system by stating "there is no such thing as a delinquent juvenile, they're just incorrigible"! Hence the total demise of the juvenile justice system.

  • I'm honest at least

    I'm curious as to why Hopemont State Hospital was not included in this. The same kind of thing happens at this hospital as well. And while they are at it they should take a real close look at all supervision in all of the state hospitals. A lot of back door deals as far as hiring practices.

  • kristin

    I was a nurse there loved my job and my clients I won an award for best nurse voted by clients but management would mandate you all the time with zero sympathy and then you would have to have scheduled overtime and be forced ton call in to recharge your brain and get rest. I believe the solution is to get rid of the uptight people who get to drive home everyday and didn't care that you were froze

    • Les

      I agree, Kristen. I would love to work there as a nurse but why would I do that to myself knowing I will get mandated, froze etc for less money than both smmc and CHH. Doesn't make sense to me!