Gov. Justice thanks Dr. Jeff Coben for his service; announces progress on transition to departments of Health, Human Services, and Health Facilities

CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that Dr. Jeff Coben, Interim Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, will make his planned departure from DHHR effective July 5, 2023. 

“Dr. Coben has done a tremendous job heading up DHHR and assisting through the many facets of the upcoming transition to three new departments,” Gov. Justice said. “I ask all West Virginians to join me in thanking him for his service to our state. As he resumes his duties as the Associate Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean of the School of Public Health at West Virginia University, I am also thankful for his continued leadership and vision on behalf of the people of West Virginia.”

Gov. Justice today appointed Dr. Sherri A. Young, DO, MBA, FAAFP, as Interim Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources until the statutory termination of the DHHR and creation of the successor Departments of Health, Human Services, and Health Facilities, on January 1, 2024, pursuant to the terms of House Bill 2006. Her appointment is effective July 5, 2023.

“Having the opportunity to help shape the future of public health for West Virginia is an honor,” said Dr. Sherri Young. “I want to thank Gov. Justice for this incredible opportunity and I look forward to working together closely with Secretary Persily and Secretary Caruso as we support and protect the health of our West Virginia citizens.”

On May 24, 2023, Gov. Justice announced that Dr. Young would be appointed as Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health. He also appointed Dr. Cynthia Persily as Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Human Services, and Michael Caruso as Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health Facilities. 

Secretary Coben has signed an order delegating the powers and duties that will be statutorily vested in the new Departments of Human Services and Health Facilities to Secretary Persily and Secretary Caruso, respectively, effective July 5, 2023. Secretary Young will retain the powers and duties pertaining to the Department of Health. 

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 new 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.