AP

Justice announces task force aimed at keeping rural WV hospitals open

Gov. Jim Justice plans to establish a task force on health care aimed at keeping rural hospitals in West Virginia open.

Justice will outline the details and duties of the Rural Medicine Task Force in an executive order next week, his office said in a news release Wednesday.

“We must stop our rural hospitals from closing,” Justice said. “I intend to bring together all the major hospitals and all the leading players to work on this issue. They have the expertise necessary to develop solutions for solving the delivery of rural medicine and care in West Virginia.”

Over the past year, hospitals have closed in Bluefield, Richwood and Wheeling. Williamson Memorial Hospital filed for bankruptcy in October, and Thomas Health System, a nonprofit system that operates hospitals in Charleston and South Charleston, announced last month it planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy but would remain open.

Officials announced last week that a hospital in Ashland, Kentucky, near Huntington, would shut down later this year.

“Maintaining hospital and emergency care services for our citizens is an extremely high priority of mine and that’s why I am forming this task force to find ways to stop the closure of our community hospitals,” Justice said.

The statement said Justice will meet with officials from his administration along with what it termed interested private parties in the coming days.

— The Associated Press

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Funerals for Monday, February 17, 2020

Batten, Richard - 2 p.m., Taylor-Vandale Funeral Home, Spencer.

Cook, Dorothy - 1 p.m., Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens, Beckley.

Dickenson, Cosette - 11 a.m., Redeemer Lutheran Church, Charleston.

Hamilton, Stephanie - 7 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

McComas Jr., Oscar - 1 p.m., Lewis Memorial Baptist Church.

Mullenax, Claude - 1 p.m., Keller Funeral Home, Dunbar.

Triolo, Angela - 11 a.m., St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Logan.

Van Camp Sr., Danny - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Wilson, William - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay.

Withers, Rosa - 1 p.m., Wilcoxen Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Yoak, Norma - 1 p.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Grantsville.