MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Mon Health administrator will represent north central West Virginia counties on the new West Virginia First Foundation Board.
Mon Health Vice President of External Affairs Jonathan Board was elected Thursday to represent Region 4 (13 counties) on the new board. The foundation has about $1 billion in opioid crisis settlements from CVS, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen to distribute to the state’s counties and cities.
The foundation board, which had six members chosen this week, will decide how about 70% of the settlement is spent, with the remaining balance going directly to municipal government units statewide.
“We have to understand this foundation represents countless hours of work from the attorney general and others who have represented those in greatest need throughout the state,” Board said. “Indeed, this is the people’s money.”
The voting members from Region 4, which includes Monongalia, Braxton, Lewis, Harrison, Marion, Preston, Taylor, Tucker, Barbour, Randolph, Gilmer, Doddridge, and Upshur counties, also voted to maintain full transparency with the public while allocation decisions are being made.
“I am fully in favor of abiding by a completely transparent model, and I think that is something not to be taken lightly,” Board said. “I loved the fact that it was approved unanimously.”
Evaluating the inventory of all available services and agencies, which will include established organizations along with lesser-known local groups, will be part of the process. As a result, some of those organizations could grow or share a particular approach or process to be used in one of the other 13 counties.
“We’re going to look for those organizations and individuals who have both been there and done that and others who have not been in this space but have amazing ideas,” Board said. “And if they’re successful in one place, we want to expand that to the rest of the region.”
The settlement is a one-time opportunity to heal and bring some closure to families and people harmed by the opioid crisis. To accomplish that, the board said every spending decision has to be carefully evaluated, then monitored to ensure the foundation gets the most and best value for the money.
“We need to be really mindful of our fiduciary duty to all West Virginians; there is nothing as precious as the lives we are trying to make better, and we always have to be mindful of that, Board said.
The voting results are unofficial until they are certified by the Attorney General’s Office.
Elections earlier this week across the state have determined other members of the West Virginia First Board including:
Northwood Health Systems Medical Director Dr. Steven Corder, who will represent Region 1 (Northern Panhandle); Berkeley County Community Corrections Director Timothy Czaja, who will represent Region 2; Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce in Region 3; State Health Officer and Bureau of Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Matthew Christiansen in Region 5; and McDowell County physician Dr. Tom Kelly, in Region 6.
Gov. Jim Justice has five appointments to the board.