CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Top officials with the state Department of Health and Human Resources will have some explaining to do during a court hearing later this month focused on ongoing problems, including staffing shortages, at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals.
Earlier this week, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom found the DHHR in contempt of court and scheduled a show-cause hearing for July 15. Karen Bowling, DHHR secretary, and Victoria Jones, Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities commissioner, have been ordered to attend.
The agency could face sanctions for not, in Bloom’s view, adequately addressing staffing shortages at Mildred Mitchell Bateman Hospital in Huntington and William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital in Weston. In the short term, Bloom called for the immediate reduction of patients at the two sites to help with understaffing issues.
In a statement, Jones said the DHHR had developed and provided three options that they believed were in compliance with Bloom’s directives.
“No action by the Bureau warrants a contempt order,” she said. “We are continuing to provide the highest quality of care for our patients and to strive for a positive working environment for our employees.”
Bloom rejected the three DHHR proposals, offered in June, that had included turning the mental health facilities into private facilities or changing the classifications of the workers to allow for more scheduling flexibility.