CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources Bill Crouch is retiring from his position, according to West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice.

Dr. Jeff Coben, Associate Vice President for Health Affairs & Dean of the School of Public Health at West Virginia University, will serve as interim Cabinet Secretary of DHHR following Crouch’s retirement, Justice says. Coben has served in several positions since joining WVU in 2004 and has served in several national health care organizations.

Crouch was appointed by Justice to the position in January 2017. He came into the position with decades of experience in healthcare. According to the DHHR, Crouch began a health care consulting firm in 1987 that provided health care management and consulting services throughout the state, and was also a partner in a long-term care company that managed long-term care facilities in West Virginia.

Before launching his consulting firm, Crouch spent several years working in acute care hospitals as well as the West Virginia State Health Department Office of Community Health Services and was the first executive director of what is now the West Virginia Health Care Authority.

Justice says Crouch plans to remain available to assist the state and DHHR throughout the transition.

“We’re gonna wish Bill the greatest in retirement – second retirement,” Justice said.

Justice says COVID Czar Clay Marsh and retired Maj. Gen. James Hoyer will assist him in the search for a permanent replacement for Crouch.

West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, says he looks forward to working with Coben and is cautiously optimistic about the change in leadership, calling it “a good first step toward returning the agency to better footing.”

“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,” Blair said. “We look forward to working with Interim DHHR Secretary Dr. Jeffrey Coben as we move forward with advancing significant changes to one of our state’s most critical departments. We wish Secretary Crouch well in his retirement.”