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Psych hospital show-cause hearing postponed

By Staff reports

A judge on Tuesday postponed a hearing meant to decide if the state Department of Health and Human Resources should be sanctioned for failing to fix problems at West Virginia’s two psychiatric hospitals.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom postponed the hearing until 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 1.

Late last month, Bloom said he would hold DHHR in contempt of court for failing to comply with his orders to remedy persistent staffing shortages at William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston and Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington. Tuesday’s show-cause hearing was to determine whether the agency would face sanctions. 

Bloom told both DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling and Victoria Jones, commissioner for DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, to appear at the hearing. DHHR spokeswoman Allison Adler said both Jones and Bowling were prepared to appear in court Tuesday, and are prepared to appear Aug. 1. 

If found in contempt, DHHR could face “the appropriate sanction” in a civil contempt case, which state law defines as incarceration “that also specifies a reasonable manner in which the contempt may be purged” or “an order requiring the payment of a fine ... to the party aggrieved by the failure of the contemner to comply with the order.” 

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