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Crouch Leaving DHHR

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Charleston –In a move that was not unexpected, the secretary of West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources is retiring at the end of the year.

Bill Crouch’s letter notifying the governor of his resignation is dated today. The retirement was announced in a live stream late this morning after this news site speculated that a “verbal war” was about to erupt between DHHR administrators and the Republican-run state legislature.

“As everyone knows, the department has been under constant scrutiny over this past year,” Crouch wrote. “Although most of those allegations were aimed at me, it is the department that has suffered.

“DHHR staff have become collateral damage. And that is wrong. The staff of DHHR are the most dedicated and smartest group of people that I have ever worked with, and I thank them for their hard work and loyalty.”

Although Crouch said his resignation had been planned for some time, reporters noted that he appeared with the governor on Friday without mentioning plans to step down. He has been in his role since the start of the Justice administration in 2016.

Press notices for today’s announcement came after the Governor’s Office said Justice would make a “virtual announcement.” No topic was listed until it went live.

In Crouch’s absence, the governor said he will be receiving guidance about the $7.5 billion agency from Interim Secretary Dr. Jeff Coben, Dean of the School of Public Health at West Virginia University, as well as Dr. Clay Marsh, the executive dean for health sciences at WVU, and James Hoyer, the state’s retired adjutant general.

The three were present for the announcement.

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The governor said Crouch will remain in an advisory role until his official departure on December 31.

“We should absolutely all be thankful and appreciative of the job he has done because it’s one tough, tough almost thankless job in lots of ways,” Justice said today. “Absolutely, Bill Crouch has done an amazing job and we should be thankful for the service he provided all of us.”

While the legislature has long advocated cutting the mammoth DHHR into two separate agencies, recent developments sparked this news site’s prediction of a “war.”

Consultants recently noted that West Virginia ranks lowest for life expectancy, highest for the rate of drug-related deaths, highest for the percentage of minors in foster care, second highest for food insecurity, and 35th for access to care.

The civil rights office for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the state of an investigation over whether DHHR is “engaging in unlawful discrimination based on disability” at state-run facilities.

Most recently, legislators continued to express concern over youths at risk because of the low number of child protective services workers.

Those comments largely sparked the site’s belief that a turf battle was imminent.

Senate President Craig Blair, a Republican as well, said, “There’s no question about it: DHHR is not in a good place, and it’s going to take a lot of work to make things right. We believe that it’s going to take statutory changes to make some of these major overhauls, but we hope this change in leadership brings a change to its management culture.”

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  • Ron Gregory

    From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia – Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.

From Mayor of Glenville at age 26 to Assistant Mayor of Charleston, management of various public entities, and countless political races in West Virginia - Ron Gregory is the most noted political correspondent in the state.

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