Gov. Justice announces leaders of 3 new agencies replacing health, human resources departments

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Gov. Jim Justice on Wednesday announced the leaders who will helm the three new state agencies forming next year amid the break up of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Justice signed a law in March that separates the massive agency into the departments of Health, Health Facilities and Human Services starting next January. The law dictates that each department be headed by a secretary appointed by the governor.

Dr. Sherri Young will be the new secretary for the Department of Health, Justice announced during a Wednesday press briefing. Young most recently served as associate chief medical officer for the Charleston Area Medical Center Health Network. She’s also the former county health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

Dr. Cynthia Persily will be the secretary of the Department of Human Services. She most recently served as vice chancellor for health sciences for the state Higher Education Policy Commission.


Michael Caruso will head the Department of Health Facilities. Caruso is a principal at the health care management firm Spectrum Health Partners LLC in Wheeling.

Lawmakers voted to split up the Department of Health and Human Resources following repeated allegations that the state’s most vulnerable residents had suffered abuse and mistreatment in its care. The department, the state’s largest, runs West Virginia’s foster care system, state-run psychiatric facilities and a host of other offices and programs.

Lawmakers said the department’s current setup is too large to manage in a crisis and that splitting it up will increase transparency in the budget process. The department’s $7.6 billion budget currently accounts for about 40% of annual state spending.

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