Thomas Health System today announced investments in expanded services to promote health and wellness in the state of West Virginia. As the 10th largest private employer in West Virginia, Thomas Health System has a rich history of serving the community for more than 100 years. Comprised of Thomas Memorial and Saint Francis Hospitals, the system’s reach extends state-wide through its nearly 2,000 employees and 450 physicians.

A recent report by the publication 24/7 Wall Street highlights growing concerns regarding the health of West Virginians. Beckley, West Virginia in Raleigh County was named the unhealthiest city in the United States, as three other cities, Charleston (13), Weirton (20) and Huntington (22), made the list of 25. Weirton-Steubenville, Huntington-Ashland and Beckley had the three highest adult obesity rates in the country. More than 37.8% of the state’s adult (18+) population are smokers. Coupled with obesity, inactivity, heart disease and other health issues, these factors contribute to West Virginia being one of the unhealthiest states in the nation.

“Thomas Health System is committed to improving health and wellness within the state of West Virginia and is making significant investments in services and technologies to promote positive change,” said Dan Lauffer, President and CEO of Thomas Health System. “While recent reports have highlighted negative healthcare trends within the state, it is important to recognize that many of the behaviors and healthcare issues driving these trends can be prevented.”

“Thomas Health System is taking steps to better engage and educate West Virginians about how to improve their health, while increasing the accessibility of needed healthcare resources within the state,” stated Lauffer. “Getting ahead of health maladies with prevention and intervention is the key way to change the population health of the state. This is precisely why Thomas Health has invested millions of dollars in the new urgent care and wellness center in Charleston.”

Saint Francis First Health & Wellness Center, which recently opened in downtown Charleston, helps individuals more proactively identify steps to improve health, as well as addresses non-emergent health issues, lab work, health screenings, flu shots and minor illnesses and injuries. Response to the center’s accessible, economical services, as well as patient conveniences such as online visit appointment scheduling, have been overwhelmingly positive. Within the state of West Virginia, 60% of Emergency Room (ER) visits are for non-life threatening issues that could be appropriately handed in either an urgent care setting, such as Saint Francis First, or in a family practitioner’s office setting. This current dynamic is putting an incredible burden on all hospitals and not providing ongoing health status assessment and improvement for many patients.

“To improve access to care, Thomas Health System is also significantly expanding its employer outreach and primary care network of physicians to better serve the community,” said Lauffer. “Many individuals don’t realize that employers, Medicare and Medicaid all provide patients with a health status assessment and follow-up protocol with little or no charge involved, if, and only if, the patient will seek the care of a Primary Care Physician or Family Practice Physician on a regular basis.”

Thomas Health System recently announced a partnership with population health expert Aegis Health Group to strengthen relationships with local employers, businesses and local community organizations through an employer-directed population health strategy. This new initiative focuses on identifying health risks among workers and offering appropriate hospital-sponsored programs designed to promote better health and align the participants’ needs with available services. Aegis has nearly three decades of experience providing employer engagement, population health and physician relationship solutions to hundreds of hospitals and health systems across the country.

“We are honored to partner with Thomas Health System as they invest in the health and wellness of West Virginians,” stated Phil Suiter, President and CEO of Aegis Health Group. “Thomas Health System’s commitment to enhance employer engagement, increase consumer awareness and grow its primary care network bring needed leadership to improving population health within the state.”

About Thomas Health System
Serving the healthcare needs of Kanawha Valley for over 100 years, Thomas Health System is focused on delivering the highest standard of service, advanced technology and compassionate, high-quality healthcare in a cost-effective manner. Comprised of Thomas Memorial and Saint Francis hospitals, Thomas Health System is a 403-bed hospital system with nearly 2,000 employees and 450 physicians. As the 10th largest private employer in West Virginia, Thomas Health System is dedicated to building on a rich history of serving its community and providing quality healthcare choices for many years to come. Visit www.thomashealthsystem.com for more information.

About Aegis Health Group
For 27 years, Aegis Health Group has assisted hundreds of hospitals and health systems with proven-effective employer engagement, population health and physician relationship solutions. Its award-winning employer engagement and population health strategies enable hospitals to grow market share, reduce outmigration and increase revenue by identifying the health risks of local employees and consumers within the community. Complementing this is Aegis’ data-driven physician relationship management solution that strategically aligns hospitals and their medical staff in a way that drives service-line growth, increases referrals, enhances patient care and provides timely issue resolution. Further information about Aegis Health Group, a privately-held company based in Brentwood, Tennessee, is available at www.AegisGroup.com.