Gov. Justice appoints three cabinet secretaries to new departments of Health, Human Services, and Health Facilities

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that he has made three cabinet appointments to three new departments of the Executive Branch, following the passage and signing of a bill to reorganize the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health – Dr. Sherri A. Young, DO, MBA, FAAFP

Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Human Services – Dr. Cynthia Persily

Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health Facilities – Michael Caruso

Dr. Jeffrey Coben, Interim Cabinet Secretary for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, will continue to assist during the reorganization process. Dr. Clay Marsh and Retired Major General James Hoyer will also continue to serve in advisory roles. 

“We have made incredible progress in DHHR, and the achievements have been remarkable because we are pulling the rope together,” Gov. Justice said. “As we reorganize DHHR into three departments, I am confident that these cabinet secretaries will maintain the exceptional improvements we’ve made and continue to make us proud. There are so many positive things happening at DHHR, and we want to continue making things better as we transition to this new organizational structure. I am certain that our new cabinet secretaries will help us achieve that.”

House Bill 2006, passed during the 2023 Legislative Session, reorganizes the current West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources into three separate departments, each overseen by its own cabinet-level secretary, effective January 1, 2024.

All three new secretaries will begin working with their respective departments in the coming months in preparation for the January 1, 2024, official transition. 

The West Virginia Department of Health will include the Bureau for Public Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Center for Threat Preparedness, Health Care Authority, Office of Inspector General, and Human Rights Commission.

The West Virginia Department of Human Services will include the Bureau for Behavioral Health, Bureau for Child Support Enforcement, Bureau for Family Assistance, Bureau for Medical Services, Bureau for Social Services, and Office of Drug Control Policy.

The West Virginia Department of Health Facilities will include Hopemont Hospital, Jackie Withrow Hospital, John Manchin Sr. Health Care Center, Lakin Hospital, Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital, Welch Community Hospital, and William R. Sharpe, Jr. Hospital.

The three cabinet secretaries will develop a memorandum of understanding to establish the Office of Shared Administration, which will provide shared services from centralized units such as finance, human resources management, management information services, and constituent services. 


Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health – Dr. Sherri A. Young, DO, MBA, FAAFP:
Dr. Sherri Young is currently the Associate Chief Medical Officer to the Vandalia Health Network. Prior to Vandalia, she served as the Executive Director and Health Officer of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department. The health command team worked through the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD), in collaboration with the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority (KCEAA), Kanawha County Commission, West Virginia National Guard, City of Charleston, Charleston Fire Department and the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Department. The command team has been featured in TIME magazine, the New York Times, Bloomberg Media, the Washington Post and STAT Media for the nationally renowned pandemic response. 

In 2019 – 2020 Dr. Young served as President of the West Virginia State Medical Association, the State’s largest medical society. She is also the Past President of the West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians and the Kanawha Medical Association. Currently, she serves as a Board member for the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) Foundation, the YWCA of the Kanawha Valley, the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority (KCEAA), West Virginia Health Right and the Regional Board for the American Cancer Society, for WV, Ohio, and Kentucky. 

She is the proud mother to her 15 year-old daughter Gabi. Dr. Young has authored many peer-reviewed and opinion articles on issues of note to public health and medicine. She has extensive experience with hundreds of professional education presentations, providing CME for her peers at the local, state, national, and international levels. She has had numerous articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals and publications and served as an Associate Editor for the West Virginia Medical Journal for nearly 10 years. 

Dr. Young received her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2003. She then completed her Residency in Family Medicine at Charleston Area Medical Center. Dr. Young graduated Summa Cum Laude from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology and Audiology. In 2022, Dr. Young completed her Master of Business Administration (MBA), from Brandeis University, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Human Services – Dr. Cynthia Persily:
Cynthia Persily PhD is currently Vice Chancellor of Health Sciences at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Dr. Persily provides oversight for a variety of rural health programs, as well as health sciences grant and scholarship initiatives, setting programmatic vision and expectations while advising program directors and participants. Special programs under the Health Sciences division focus on behavioral health, nursing workforce, graduate medical education, rural health, primary care research networks and vulnerable population needs. During the pandemic, Dr. Persily provided guidance and support to all public and private colleges and universities in their COVID response efforts. In 2022-2023, as Vice Chancellor, Dr. Persily led the Governor’s Nursing Workforce Expansion Initiative and the Governor’s EMS “Answer the Call” Initiative, working with the Governor, legislators, partners, and stakeholders to expand these crucial workforces to meet the needs of the citizens of West Virginia. 

Dr. Persily’s career in West Virginia has spanned 30 years of service to the state and citizens. She spent 20 years at West Virginia University, eventually earning the rank of tenured Professor in the School of Nursing, serving as Associate Dean of Graduate Practice Programs prior to her departure in 2013. While at WVU, Dr. Persily had a faculty practice in a rural health clinic for over 15 years providing prenatal care to rural women as a nurse practitioner and served as the Co-Director of the HRSA funded WV Rural Health Research Center. In 2013, Dr. Persily took on the role of President and CEO of Highland Hospital and other affiliated Highland companies, providing strategic leadership to this behavioral health system for 7 years. Under her leadership, the system transitioned to Medicaid managed care for inpatient and outpatient services, opened a residential psychiatric treatment facility for children, and scaled mental health services to meet demand. Dr. Persily’s research has focused on vulnerable populations, rural health, and health care workforce issues. Dr. Persily previously held positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University in Philadelphia. 

Dr. Persily holds a BSN from East Stroudsburg University, an MSN in Perinatal Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, a PhD in Nursing and Health and Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania, and a postgraduate certificate from West Virginia University as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Persily is a proud alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows program, a national executive leadership program. She is also a graduate of Leadership America. Dr. Persily serves her community and state through board membership with the Red Cross Appalachian Region, United Way of Central WV, and the WV Supreme Court’s Judicial Investigation Commission. Dr. Persily resides in Charleston WV, with her husband Eric, an anesthesiologist, and is a proud parent to Alexandra, a recent graduate of the medical school at the University of Virginia, and Aaron, a strategic business analyst in Richmond, Virginia. 

Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health Facilities Michael Caruso:
Michael Caruso is a Healthcare consultant currently working with Orchard Park Hospital. Mike has decades of experience in leadership roles at Spectrum Health Partners, Ohio Valley Health System, WVU Medicine, and Wheeling Hospital. Mike and his wife Cheryl are lifetime residents of West Virginia and have three children.