6:00: Morning News

WVU Medicine moves into Kanawha Valley with Thomas Health agreement

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thomas Health System has announced an affiliation with WVU Medicine.

The South Charleston-based system announced Wednesday a new management and clinical affiliation agreement had been reached with the WVU Health System.

St. Francis Hospital is located along Washington Street in downtown Charleston. (File)

“This agreement is good for our hospitals, our employees, our patients, and the communities we serve: it will enable us to add a variety of specialties and subspecialties at our hospitals, thereby expanding our ability to care for the people in our community,” Thomas Health Board Chairman Angela Mayfield said in a statement announcing the agreement. “This also establishes a pathway where we could become full members of the WVU Health System, which would give us greater access to resources necessary to remain a healthy and viable organization for years to come.”

Thomas Health also announced Wednesday the retirement of President and CEO Dan Lauffer.

Dan Lauffer

“Serving as the health system’s Chief Executive Officer has been an incredible honor. The decision to create a partnership with WVU Health could not have come at a better time,” Lauffer said. “I am at a point where I want to pursue other projects and enjoy more time at home with my family.”

WVU Medicine President and CEO Albert Wright will serve as interim president and CEO at Thomas Health until a replacement for Lauffer can be chosen.

“I’m excited to work with Dan, the board, and the leadership of the Thomas Health System during this transition,” Wright said. “Dan has done an outstanding job laying the groundwork to secure Thomas Health’s long-term success.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin weighed in on the announcement.

“As WVU and Thomas Health begin this next chapter of healthcare for the Kanawha County region, I will continue working with everyone involved to ensure all West Virginians continue to receive the same quality care Thomas Health has provided for over eight decades.”

Manchin also congratulated Lauffer on his retirement.

Albert Wright
Photo/WVU Medicine

Thomas Health is made up of Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston and St. Francis Hospital in Charleston. The system filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in January 2020. They were able to come up with a plan to deal with the long-term debt in just more than five months.

Thomas’ decision to join WVU Medicine comes less than a month after healthcare-rival CAMC announced an agreement with Morgantown-based Mon Health to form Vandalia Health System.

Thomas Board Chair Mayfield said the agreement was key to the system’s future.

“Small community hospitals like Thomas Memorial and Saint Francis need partnerships with larger systems in order to survive the current health care climate,” Mayfield said.

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