Thank You,
and Happy New Year

The past year has been exciting for our organizations and for the future of health care in our communities, as we have made strong progress toward coming together. When we announced our intent to merge in April 2015, we knew we had a long road ahead of us, and we were right! This decision is critical for the future of our region, however, so we believe the time has been well spent.

During the past 21 months, we’ve been energized by the thousands of conversations we’ve had with stakeholders throughout our region. Whether in a school auditorium or in a community center, you’ve offered your support, asked questions and provided meaningful input on how to best tackle our region’s critical health care issues. In fact, there have been more than 50 public meetings or official hearings to encourage a dialogue on this important topic.

As we enter 2017, we are closer now than ever to bringing Ballad Health to life. We continue to work very closely with officials in Tennessee and Virginia, as they review our applications. With their approval, we hope to finalize our proposed merger in the coming months.

This progress wouldn’t be possible without your support and involvement every step of the way, and we will continue to keep you updated as we move forward. In addition, we wanted to address a few questions we’ve received recently, so please review a few of these below.

We hope you and your family have enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. And most importantly – we thank you. From the beginning, this has been a community effort, led by people committed to seeing our region thrive. We are excited about what 2017 will bring.

Recent FAQ added to :

What is the outlook for employees of Wellmont and Mountain States if the proposed merger is approved?
A: We know that in order to thrive in the future, we need a strong workforce with employees and physicians who are passionate about what they do and who are committed to providing excellent care to the people we serve. While it’s no secret health care is changing rapidly, we believe that joining our two local health systems and keeping decisions and resources in our region offers our best chance to maintain a strong and vibrant workforce. We believe the proposed merger creates the best outlook both for the people we serve and for the valued employees and team members who serve them.

What will happen to employees’ years of service and accrued vacation time if the merger is approved?
A: The new health system will honor prior service credit for eligibility and vesting under current benefit plans and will provide all employees credit for accrued vacation and sick leave.

Will differences in salaries and pay rates be resolved after the two systems merge?
A. The new health system will work as quickly as practicable after the completion of the proposed merger to address any differences in salary/pay rates and employee benefit structures. The new health system will offer competitive compensation and benefits for our employees to support our vision of becoming one of the strongest health systems in the country and one of the best health system employers in the country.

Will employees still have access to continuing education opportunities?
A: We will combine the best of both organizations’ career development programs in order to ensure maximum opportunity for career enhancement and training.

Together, we’re committed to nurturing a culture that promotes employee satisfaction and opportunity for professional growth. 

Will the proposed merger create a “monopoly” of care?
A: As we describe in our Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) and cooperative agreement applications, 70 percent of physician services in our area and 50 percent of outpatient health care services are delivered by independent providers of care. These other providers will remain strong forces in the regional health care market.

Additionally, Ballad Health would be actively supervised by Tennessee and Virginia through the terms of the COPA and cooperative agreement. Ballad Health has made enforceable commitments to both states to guard against negative effects that could result from the loss of competition. This means the future organization must meet commitments to keep care affordable, improve quality of care, enhance access and benefit the communities we serve. These protections are not something that “may” happen with the proposed merger; they are requirements that Ballad Health will be responsible for achieving.

Thank you again for your support throughout this process. We are excited about what the coming months hold. From all of us at Wellmont and Mountain States, we wish you a very happy and healthy new year!