PARKERSBURG - The retirement of the man who helped facilitate the merger of the two Parkersburg hospitals into the Camden Clark Medical Center is not expected to have a major impact on local operations.
J. Thomas Jones, president and CEO of West Virginia United Health System, recently announced his plans to retire at the end of the year after a 41-year career in health care.
"This has been my dream job," he said in a press release issued this week. "My first job was in the food service department at the original University Hospital in Morgantown. After graduate school, I returned to work as an administrative resident. I'm now bringing it to a close as a part of the team that provides health care to more people in West Virginia than anyone else. You can't beat that. I have been privileged to work with an outstanding group of staff and board members."
He is only the second person to hold the CEO post since WVUHS's founding in 1996. When he came to the group in 2002, it included only two hospitals, WVU's Ruby Memorial in Morgantown and the original United Hospital Center in Clarksburg. Since then, it has added City Hospital in Martinsburg, Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Ranson and the Camden Clark Medical Center. The WVUHS also includes United Physicians Care and the Health Partners Network.
Jones was a regular fixture in the Parkersburg area in late 2010 and 2011 when the former Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital were consolidated under the flag of the West Virginia United Health System, which financed the purchase of St. Joseph's from Signature Hospitals for about $100 million.
At the time, Jones spoke to a number of community organizations, including the Parkersburg Rotary Club and the Area Roundtable, about the future of health care in the Parkersburg area."I would want the community to know a couple of things," he said at the time. "One, we are not here to run health care in Parkersburg, West Virginia. We are here to make it better. We believe we can improve quality and we can lower costs.
"Second, the local board will continue to make most of the decisions regarding the health care in Parkersburg. They will come up with their budgets and they will decide how they will spend their capital and decide on what services will be added and what services shouldn't be added."
Mike King, president and CEO of the Camden Clark Medical Center, said Jones will be missed.
"I've worked for Tom for nearly two years but have known him for over 20,'' King said. ''Tom is an energetic, well-informed executive who has led West Virginia United Health System to a status that few imagined 12 years ago.
''I'm excited for Tom as he moves into this new phase of his life, but will miss his insight, intelligence and contributions to health care in West Virginia. I wish him happiness and the best of luck in his retirement."
Jones' retirement is not expected to affect operations at the Camden Clark Medical Center.
''Camden Clark will continue to be an active member of the WVUHS and support its commitment to improving the health of the communities it serves through the delivery of quality, cost-effective health care services and the support of health professional training and research,'' said Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs.