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.
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.