Thank You

Welcome to the second edition of the Better Together newsletter. We received great feedback on our first edition, which can be read here. We’ll continue to provide regular updates on our process through this newsletter, our website – BecomingBetterTogether.org – and in other ways. Many of you have also visited our Q&A page to read the latest questions and answers or to ask your own question. We hope you’ll continue to do so moving forward.

News and Updates

Our process to explore a potential merger is on track, and we want you to be the first to know an important update. When we made our announcement last month, we shared that a Joint Board Task Force would be created to act as a governing body of the process as we conduct due diligence, move toward a definitive agreement, and then move toward seeking regulatory approvals for the potential integration of our two organizations. This task force will be composed of members appointed by the current boards of Wellmont and Mountain States, as well as the CEOs of the two systems. Today, we’re excited to announce the following members of the task force.

From Wellmont:

  • Dr. Nelson Gwaltney, of Bristol, Tennessee, a member of the Wellmont board of directors, president of Highlands Physicians Inc. and a general surgeon on the medical staff of Bristol Regional Medical Center
  • Bart Hove, of Kingsport, Tennessee president and CEO of Wellmont Health System
  • Roger Leonard, of Bristol, Tennessee, chair of the Wellmont board of directors and a senior adviser to England & Company
  • Roger K. Mowen Jr., of Kingsport, Tennessee, a member of the Wellmont board of directors and retired senior vice president of global developing businesses and corporate strategy for Eastman Chemical Company
  • Dr. Doug Springer, of Kingsport, Tennessee, a gastroenterologist on the medical staff of Holston Valley Medical Center, a member of the Wellmont board of directors and immediate past president of the Tennessee Medical Association
  • Dr. David Thompson, of Bristol, Tennessee, an internal medicine physician with Wellmont Medical Associates in Bristol, who also practices in Abingdon, Virginia, and is a Wellmont board member and chairman of the Wellmont Medical Associates board of directors
  • Keith Wilson, of Kingsport, Tennessee, who owns a secondary residence and a farm in Scott County, Virginia, a member of the Wellmont board of directors, publisher of the Kingsport Times-News and president of Northeast Tennessee Media Group

From Mountain States:

  • Barbara Allen, of Johnson City, Tennessee, chair of the Mountain States board of directors and general manager of Stowaway Storage, a family-owned business in Johnson City
  • Bob Feathers, of Kingsport, Tennessee, a member of the Mountain States board of directors and president and CEO of Workspace Interiors, Inc.
  • Alan Levine, of Johnson City, Tennessee, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance
  • Dr. David May, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, a member of the Mountain States board of directors and immediate past president of the medical staff at Sycamore Shoals Hospital
  • Dr. Rick Moulton, of Johnson City, Tennessee, medical director of clinical integration for State of Franklin Healthcare Associates and chairman of the SoFHA patient centered medical home committee
  • Gary Peacock, of Marion, Virginia, a member of the Mountain States board of directors, former chair of the Smyth County Community Hospital board of directors, and retired senior vice president of Royal Mouldings
  • Clem Wilkes, Jr. of Johnson City, Tennessee, a member of the Mountain States board of directors and co-manager of Citizens Investment Services, a subsidiary of Citizens Bank Tri-Cities

Learn more about the Joint Board Task Force »

The Integration Council, which was named last month, has begun its work and will make recommendations for consideration by leadership and the Joint Board Task Force. For reference again, below are the members of the Integration Council.

From Wellmont:

  • Eric Deaton, executive vice president and chief operating officer
  • Alice Pope, executive vice president and chief financial officer
  • Todd Norris, senior vice president for system advancement
  • Gary Miller, senior vice president of legal affairs and general counsel
  • Dr. Dale Sargent, system medical director for hospitalist services and former chief medical officer
  • Dr. Bob Funke, a member of Holston Valley Medical Center’s Physician Clinical Council and former hospital board of directors member

From Mountain States:

  • Marvin Eichorn, executive vice president and chief operating officer
  • Dr. Morris Seligman, executive vice president and chief medical officer
  • Lynn Krutak, senior vice president and chief financial officer
  • Tony Keck, senior vice president and chief development officer
  • Tim Belisle, senior vice president and general counsel
  • Dr. Sandra Brooks, a system board member and vice president of Watauga Pathology Associates

In The News

In case you missed it, here are several recent news articles that may be of interest to you:

Thanks to Eastman Chemical Company and the president of District 5 of the Tennessee Nurses Association (which represents our region) for their positive comments and support of our process and vision.

“Eastman supports the decision to unify the systems in an effort to improve the quality and affordability of and access to health care in the region.”

CeeGee McCord, Eastman Chemical Company; Source: Kingsport Times-News

“The Tennessee Nurses Association embraces the decision as one that will improve the quality of health care in our region, control spiraling costs, and better address the chronic health care issues facing this state.”

Teresa A. Martin, MSN, FNP-BC, District President, on behalf of District 5, Tennessee Nurses Association; Source: WCYB

Questions of the Week

In each newsletter, we will answer a couple of the hottest questions. For more answers, please go to our website, which will be updated frequently.

“Are there plans to close one of the two hospitals in Norton, Virginia?”
A: There are no plans to close any hospitals. The services and programs offered by both organizations through our hospitals and other locations are always evolving in ways that reflect the input of our physicians and the needs of our patients. Long-term, the new organization will conduct a comprehensive health needs assessment to identify opportunities for new community-based resources and possibilities that don’t exist today for our employees and communities.

“How does this decision impact ETSU?”
A: We believe our proposed new organization would positively impact East Tennessee State University and other academic institutions, as it would allow us to further advance clinical education in the region and to be more competitive in pursuing research dollars currently flowing elsewhere nationally. In fact, the president of ETSU will also serve as an ex-officio member of the new system’s Board.

Both Mountain States and Wellmont have been forced to reduce residency positions in recent years. We believe this partnership can help reverse that trend. We would partner with ETSU and others to strengthen the pipeline of physicians and allied health professionals and to attract research jobs and investments in our region. In addition, ETSU would help to conduct a substantial comprehensive regional health needs assessment to address health gaps and disparities, which will help shape the future direction of the potential new system and establish its priorities.

“What EHR system will be used by the combined entity?”
A: That is a major decision that has both strategic and clinical implications, and no decisions like this would be made until after the transaction closes (expected no earlier than the end of 2015). We will include significant input from our physicians before making any major decisions that will impact clinical care. What we do know today is that our combined organization would have a single EHR platform to ensure our facilities and providers work as seamlessly as possible with each other. We promise to share more information as soon as it’s available.

Have a question? Submit it by clicking here or to this email address: info@becomingbettertogether.org.