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Commissioner Melton
S. Hughes Melton, MD, MBA, FAAFP, FABAM

It is with great sadness that DBHDS announces the tragic and sudden death of Commissioner Melton on August 2, 2019.
A statement from Governor Northam can be found here.

Chief Deputy for Behavioral Health Services Mira Signer has been appointed acting commissioner during this time of transition.

Commissioner Melton's biographical information below will remain on the website for a time for those seeking more information about his life and legacy.

Dr. S. Hughes Melton is a leader, teacher and healer appointed by Governor Ralph Northam to lead DBHDS and transform Virginia's system for people with behavioral health and developmental disability. The transformed system will provide a consistent level of high quality, accessible services to all Virginians through increased integration with primary care, efficiency of operations and accountability to stakeholders. Dr. Melton and his nearly 7,000 team members lead an agency that stewards $1.06 billion to operate fourteen state hospitals, collaborate with forty locally-run community services boards and license over 800 private providers.

Previously, Dr. Melton served as the Chief Deputy Commissioner of Public Health and Preparedness at the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). There, he led a highly skilled team that directed the activities of eight offices, over 480 staff and $185 million in resources and served as the Chief of Staff for VDH’s Deputy Leadership Team that manages the agency’s 4,100 staff and $700 million in resources. He remains clinically active treating the chronic relapsing disease of the brain called addiction. He also led the agency’s response to Virginia’s public health emergency on addiction and speaks nationally on the substance abuse epidemic.

Prior to his role at VDH, Dr. Melton served from 2014-2016 as the VP, Medical Education for NE and NW Markets of Mountain States, a not-for-profit, 13-hospital health system serving Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. He started two residency programs and enhanced other medical education programs to address the work force shortage issues and increase the capability of the medical community to meet the needs of the region in the area of population health. In 2015 Dr. Melton’s team won the President’s Quality Award, the highest quality award granted at MSHA, and he received the Servant’s Heart Award, the highest patient service award granted at Mountain States. From 2012-2014 he served as the Chief Medical Officer for the Virginia facilities of Mountain States Health.

In addition to his board certification in family medicine, Dr. Melton became board certified in Addiction Medicine in 2012, the same year he started HighPower, P.C. a patient centered addiction treatment clinic in Russell County, Virginia. HighPower has been recognized at the state level for its innovative approach to addiction treatment. Dr. Melton co-founded C-Health, P.C. in Lebanon, Virginia in 2000. C-Health still provides full-spectrum family medicine services to over 18,000 people in rural southwest Virginia.

The American Academy of Family Physicians selected Dr. Melton to be the 2011 Family Physician of the Year for C-Health’s innovative work in the primary care treatment of addiction and chronic pain, and for his leadership in recruiting healthcare professionals to what was once considered a medically underserved county. The University of Virginia is his academic home where he earned his medical degree and completed his family medicine residency in 1996. In 2012 he returned to earn his MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Running, biking, aviation, church activities, serving the underserved and spending time with his wife Sarah and two daughters are his deepest passions in life.


This episode of the Patients Come First podcast features an interview with Dr. S. Hughes Melton, MD, the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS). Dr. Melton discusses his background in health care and addiction treatment, the work DBHDS is doing to help enhance treatment services to meet patients' mental health care needs, and efforts to respond to the opioid epidemic.

Dr. Hughes Melton, Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, sat down with VACo's Dean Lynch to discuss major issues in behavioral health, including efforts to address the addiction crisis and the effects of Medicaid expansion.

2019 Budget Update