CHARLESTON, WV – Following Gov. Justice’s Breakfast Roundtable Summit with his Pandemic Leadership Team Monday morning at the Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, Gov. Justice announced during his COVID-19 briefing that the State will be implementing a new initiative called “Saving Our Care” to ensure the stability of hospitals and nursing homes as the current surge in cases brought on by the Delta variant begins to peak.
“Our hospitals are on the verge of being overrun to the point where, if we don’t act right now, we could awaken to a situation where we’re basically rationing care,” Gov. Justice said. “Now we’re not there right at this moment. But we should all realize that we are now at a point in time where we are reaching a crisis.”
“So, just like when we started our ‘Saving Our Wisdom’ effort, we are now going to spin off that and start a new initiative called ‘Saving Our Care,’” Gov. Justice continued. “We’re going to make every effort in the world to avoid getting to the point where we are talking about rationing care.”
Saving Our Care will provide staffing assistance and financial help to hospitals and long-term care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep workforce levels up. The program will also provide financial assistance to hospitals that have to defer elective procedures.
“As we approach and pass the peak of this surge, our hospitals are being taxed to the limit,” Gov. Justice said. “If they need to start eliminating elective surgeries, and we do nothing, that would really destroy the economics of our hospitals.”
The initiative will also include 24/7 monitoring and communication with hospital leaders, including a statewide monitoring system for all hospitals and long-term care facilities.
“We’ve got the dollars available,” Gov. Justice said. “And if we get to the point where we have exhausted those dollars, we’ll surely call the Legislature back in and get approval to do even more.”
The Governor added that with case numbers now on the decline for the first time in months, and with hospitalizations and deaths expected to soon begin decreasing as well, he hopes the Saving Our Care initiative will only need to be in place for the next three to six weeks.
“I think the Governor’s commitment to support those facilities, so not only can we take care of all people with COVID-19, but as the Governor said, it’s also important that we have our hospital beds available for people with strokes, heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and bad infections, because when when hospitals get overwhelmed, then those elements start to suffer too,” State Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh said. “We’ve seen two states in the country – Idaho and Alaska – that have rationed care, and we certainly, as a leadership group, and certainly under the Governor’s direction, we are committed to making sure that will not happen here in West Virginia.”
“On behalf of our state’s long-term care facilities, we thank Governor Justice forrecognizing the current plight of our health care providers and acting quickly toimplement the “Save Our Care” initiative,” said West Virginia Health Care Association’s CEO, Marty Wright.“
The current surge of COVID-19 has stretched the staffing and bed availability in our state to the breaking point. Our health care workers have truly been fighting a war against COVID-19 for the last 19 months. This latest surge has placed an unprecedented stress on our frontline workers, yet they still strive to provide quality care to all ailing West Virginians. It is imperative that we provide our brave workers some relief and reinforcements, thereby allowing our health care systems to meet the extreme demand that is being placed on them.’
“On behalf of the hospitals in West Virginia and the 49,000 employees who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic, we applaud the actions taken today by Governor Justice and the COVID-19 pandemic leadership team to create a task force to provide much needed support to hospitals and long-term care facilities,” said Jim Kaufman, President and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association.“This decision will help our hospitals manage the financial challenges of responding to the pandemic, including the escalating expenses and critical staffing needs they are currently experiencing. Ultimately, funding will help support our health care workers who have been on the frontlines of care for more than 19-months and help maintain the long-term stability of our health care system to care for all patients.’
“COVID-19 continues to test the capacity of West Virginia hospitals, but we stand ready to serve our communities in the face of this pandemic. We are thankful to the Governor and our state’s leadership for recognizing the essential role of West Virginia hospitals and long-term care facilities as we continue to care for all West Virginians,” said Kaufman.