Pictured, from left, are Reverend Jeremiah Jasper; E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University; Delegate William Hartman, Davis Health System board chair; Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO, West Virginia University Health System; and Vance Jackson, president and CEO, Davis Health System. 

Special guests E. Gordon Gee, West Virginia University president, and Albert L. Wright Jr., president and CEO of the West Virginia University Health System, attended a kick-off event in Elkins on Wednesday (April 26) celebrating the new partnership with Davis Health System (DHS) for cancer, cardiology, pulmonology, and vascular services.

“Today is a very exciting day for Davis Health System,” said DHS Board Chair Bill Hartman in his opening remarks to the crowd, which included employees, local officials, and medical staff members from both WVU Medicine and Davis Health.

Said DHS President and CEO Vance Jackson, “a physician once told me that medicine is about relationships, and if you want good medicine you build good relationships. That’s the core of what we’re trying to do here. Seventy miles up the road is one of the premier academic medical centers in the United States, and they do it extremely well, so why wouldn’t we partner with them for services like cardiovascular and cancer?”

Last August, the two groups announced the partnership to establish a Heart and Vascular Institute within Davis Medical Center’s (DMC) new outpatient center. Additionally, a Certificate of Need was approved in March for the affiliation of the Davis Medical Center Cancer Care Center with the WVU Cancer Institute.

“Through our strongly aligned partnership, we have an opportunity, which is really an obligation, to improve the health of those in the state and the region,” Wright said. “We’re going to have a true academic medical center level of care here at Davis Medical.”

Gee was the event’s final speaker and enthused the audience as he shared “West Virginia’s best days are in front of us.” He outlined education, healthcare, and prosperity as three goals of the University. “You can’t have great education, you can’t have great prosperity without a healthy community. So the health of our people is absolutely critical. This relationship we’re building today is about helping people and getting people to realize their lives can be better.” 

The Heart and Vascular Institute relocated in early February to the second floor of DMC.  The specialty practice includes cardiologist Chalak Berzingi, MD, vascular surgeon Alexandre d’Audiffret, MD, thoracic surgeon Ghulam Abbas, MD, and physician assistants Suzanne Brown and Ashley Nester.

The partnership to improve services at the Cancer Center will boost local cancer care by bringing new technology for radiation oncology, and a larger, renovated facility as needed for the medical oncology program. Coupling the expertise of both cancer programs will enhance regional accessibility to state-of-the-art cancer care.

“Patients, especially those who are the sickest, receive care in multiple places," Jackson said. "We can do a better job of how they transition from place to place and bring value to their experience by improving cost and clinical outcomes, and by building a stronger system of care.  That’s what led us to this discussion with WVU Medicine.”.

The strategic move creates a partnership for specialized services without merger or acquisition by either health system, providing a landscape for the highest quality and more efficient care for patients.