News & Updates

Welcome to the third edition of the Better Together newsletter.

Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance continue the work of exploring our proposed future organization. Here are several updates:

  •  COPA legislation: On May 18, Gov. Bill Haslam, R-Tenn., signed a bill amending the state of Tennessee’s Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) statute. We supported this legislation, and applaud the governor for signing it. This statute provides guidelines to ensure that mergers, like the one we are exploring, provide for high quality, cost effective health care. The COPA will represent an agreement between our new system and the state of Tennessee, and compliance with the content of the agreement will be actively supervised by the state.
  • Nurse involvement in our planning efforts: We’ve received several thoughtful questions through the Better Together website regarding the involvement of nurses in the planning efforts for the proposed new organization. See this week’s “Questions of the Week” below. Our nurses are a vital part of both organizations and will be critically important in our proposed future organization as well. There will be a number of ways nurses and team members from both organizations will be heard through this process, and we’ll keep you updated of these opportunities along the way.
  • iPad mini giveaways: Congratulations to Beverly Stephens and Mike Housewright! Beverly won an iPad mini after entering the drawing at our Better Together booth during the Leadercast event in Kingsport, and Mike won an iPad mini after entering the drawing at the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit at East Tennessee State University. Enjoy!

Community Support

We thank the Chambers of Commerce of Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City / Jonesborough / Washington County for their recent letter of support for our proposed merger. The Chambers have invested a lot of time, on behalf of their hundreds of member businesses, learning about the possibilities for our region with the proposed merger. The support of the business community, which pays much of the cost of health care in our region, is critical to the success of the proposed new organization. The letter can be read here. Here is a brief excerpt:

“The Chambers of Commerce … endorse the proposed merger of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance to an integrated single system. We believe this offers the best opportunity for the betterment of our region's healthcare.”

The Chambers of Commerce of Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City / Jonesborough / Washington County

Additionally, we want to thank Dr. Doug Springer of the Tennessee Medical Association for his statement of support:

“Combining strengths, assets and liabilities would enable these systems to focus more on quality, population health management, mental health programs and other services benefiting the entire region.”

Douglas J. Springer, MD, immediate past president of the Tennessee Medical Association

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.

“Will nurses be involved in the planning efforts for the proposed new organization?"
A: Yes, absolutely – there will be a number of ways nurses from both Wellmont and Mountain States will be heard through this process. In fact, we won’t be successful in accomplishing what we hope to do without the support and input of our nurses. As the Integration Council continues to progress, it will activate functional teams that will provide recommendations related to the operations of a merged system. We will want nursing to be well represented and active on these teams, which will focus specifically on areas like clinical operations, academics and research, and population health.

Throughout this process, we encourage nursing leadership to stay closely in touch with hospital leadership to communicate questions and thoughts from nursing staff. Meanwhile, we will continue to seek the input of our team members in a variety of ways, including our Better Together website, our newsletter, internal and external town hall meetings, and more. We recognize the vital role our nurses play every day but especially in shaping the future of our proposed new system, and we’re committed to keeping our nurses updated on any opportunities to be involved.

“What are the plans for the future of pediatrics care?”
A: We see great opportunity to enhance and expand access to pediatric services through our proposed merger across the region. What that looks like specifically is part of the planning work ahead as we first identify gaps in what our communities need versus what either of our organizations offer today and can improve through the proposed merger. We look forward to sharing more information as our planning efforts unfold.

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