Thank you and farewell: Moving on and moving forward in healthcare mission

Ten years ago I was offered the opportunity to join the senior leadership team at Camden Clark Memorial Hospital as its vice president of operations. I hit the ground running by completing the new South Tower addition followed by a top-to-bottom renovation of the North Tower over a two-year period.

Mike King, president and CEO at the time, had a dream to stabilize health care services in the Mid-Ohio Valley and instilled in me the goal to make that dream come true. Working closely with our hospital board of directors, we set out to establish a strategic plan in early 2009. In March 2011, we merged St. Joseph’s Hospital with Camden Clark Memorial Hospital to form a comprehensive medical center.

At the same time we joined the West Virginia United Health System as a full partner along with United Hospital Center in Bridgeport, West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, and Berkeley and Jefferson Medical Centers in the Eastern Panhandle.

Our goal of stabilizing the health care services for the Mid-Ohio Valley did not come easy: loyal patients of St. Joseph’s Hospital, along with their physicians, initially did not support the merger or our efforts to streamline and consolidate services. An overwhelming expense base and dwindling inpatients at the St. Joseph’s Campus, along with years of underinvestment in the physical plant prior to the merger, ultimately required us to close the campus.

Although that was a difficult decision, doing so ultimately helped to establish a unified healthcare environment that brought the employees of both campuses together and allowed us to expand critical, outpatient services in our community.

From March of 2011 to now, we have experienced significant improvements in care both locally at Camden Clark Medical Center and at West Virginia University Hospitals, and we started new programs in cancer, heart and vascular, pediatrics, orthopaedics, and the neurosciences. This commitment to quality care has not gone unnoticed by state, regional, and national organizations that assess and recognize healthcare organizations for their quality care.

Along the way our health system created a new identity, and today all our doctors and hospitals operate under a common brand — WVU Medicine. This has provided a seamless process for patients to receive care at any location within our system and to provide care locally at the same level and under the same protocols as a patient would receive at our flagship academic medical center in Morgantown.

As I begin a new role next week with WVU Medicine, my parting message is first to thank all of the health care professionals in this community for the exemplary care they provide and to all the support staff that ensure care can be provided in an expedient and efficient manner. Second, thank you to the community for your support as we grow and improve our quality care and customer service.

Lastly, thank you to the business leaders for all your support, as we have done great things together in the development of new and expanding industries in the Mid-Ohio Valley. I will miss the Mid-Ohio Valley, the people, the surroundings and community as a whole, but I will not be too far away in my new role as the vice president of strategic initiatives for WVU Medicine. I will always have Camden Clark Medical Center in the forefront as we expand and develop new and innovative health care services for WVU Medicine and the state of West Virginia.