Lewis spent the first few months of his tenure as Cabinet secretary visiting local DHHR offices across the state, and he had planned a 10-point plan of action to address West Virginia's major heath concerns, according to Stevens.
"We have diabetes, heart disease and breathing problems. We're overweight, have bad teeth, too many of our babies die, and we smoke and chew way too much, and, not surprisingly, we're depressed," Lewis told lawmakers in December 2010.
Lewis worked to implement a best-practices health-care management system for Medicaid, and endorsed preventive health services, patient-centered medical homes and insurance exchanges. Lewis also worked toward developing a "safety net" for the state's teaching hospitals, as well as to maximize federal financial assistance resources, Stevens said.
"He was a primary-care physician with a tremendous amount of experience with policy. He had the vision, from a medical perspective, of what was needed at the DHHR," he said.
Rocco Fucillo was appointed to the position of interim secretary following Lewis' resignation, and Tomblin chose Karen Bowling, a former nurse practitioner and health-care administrator, to serve as the DHHR secretary in May.
Lewis is survived by his wife, Mino, and daughters Beth and Tana. A memorial service for Lewis will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.