MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Highland-Clarksburg Hospital (HCH) has entered into a management and clinical affiliation agreement with the West Virginia University Health System (WVUHS) effective Monday, April 6, WVU Medicine officials announced Thursday.
“When we partner with hospitals throughout the state, we do so with the goal of ensuring that the residents in each area maintain access to the care they need,” Albert Wright, president and CEO of the WVUHS, said. “In a state hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic, our residents need high quality behavioral and mental healthcare now more than ever, and it is our honor to partner with HCH to ensure they can continue to provide high quality services to their patients,” Wright said in a statement.
Highland has been serving Harrison County, northern West Virginia, and various regions of the state since opening in 2013. With 115 licensed beds, HCH is the county’s only inpatient psychiatric facility, serving both children and adults and providing care for individuals who require substance abuse and mental health services. The hospital employs 300 people, according to a news release.
Residents of Clarksburg and the surrounding region will have greater access to WVU Medicine specialists and subspecialists through the new clinical affiliation agreement, officials said. WVUHS has also agreed to provide the expertise and services of additional management personnel on an as-needed or as-requested basis, they said.
“This is an exciting opportunity to create a center for behavioral health excellence and to prioritize these important and often-overlooked services in our state,” Jill Rice, HCH Board chair, said. “When other providers are pulling out of West Virginia, WVU Medicine is stepping up to serve this vulnerable population,” Rice said.
Vickie Jones, CEO of HCH, will continue to serve as the CEO through the management agreement. Prior to joining HCH, she served as commissioner for the Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities within the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
“I look forward to working with the WVU Health System and all those associated to build on our respective strengths and ensure that the residents of Harrison County and the surrounding areas have access to the highest quality, most comprehensive behavioral healthcare services they need when they need them,” Jones said. “And, I look forward to working collaboratively to provide much-needed behavioral health services that will benefit the entire state of West Virginia,” stated Jones.
These agreements will bring together the expertise of HCH and WVU Medicine’s Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, a division of the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute that includes the WVU Medicine Chestnut Ridge Center and the WVU Medicine Center for Hope and Healing, the news release said. Chestnut Ridge Center provides a variety of inpatient and outpatient behavioral and mental health services for children, adolescents, and adults, and the Center for Hope and Healing supports adults struggling with substance use disorders through medically managed withdrawal stabilization and residential treatment.
“Access to life-saving psychiatric care has long been a challenge for people in West Virginia. Far too many have had to suffer with no service or travel great distances to receive quality care,” James Berry, D.O., interim chair of the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, said. “This new relationship with HCH will allow us to pool resources, provide expert collaboration, and coordinate services to enable people to obtain the care they deserve in their own community,” Berry said.