In our region, we have a unique environment that requires a unique solution. Given this, we are pursuing what’s called a Certificate of Public Advantage (or a COPA) in Tennessee and a cooperative agreement process in Virginia
This is a collaboration between us and our states – one in which we dedicate our efforts to high performance and cost growth containment for our employers and job creators and where we invest in opportunities to improve health.
This local solution to our region’s health care challenges is a far better scenario than other partnerships Mountain States and Wellmont have considered outside our community. The COPA and cooperative agreement process offers us an opportunity – like no other – to improve the health of the people of our region. Through it we are able to accomplish much more for our region than we could separately.
The application filings launch the regulatory review and approval stage in Tennessee and Virginia. We are working closely with the Departments of Health in both states and the Southwest Virginia Health Authority, which have developed a thorough process to gather community feedback and review our applications. We appreciate their hard work, and we should know more about the timeline in the coming weeks and months.
It’s important to know we still have a long road ahead before anything truly changes. In the meantime, Wellmont and Mountain States will continue operating separately and independently, as we do now.
We are so excited about what this potential merger means for our communities and our patients, and we look forward to sharing more as we continue planning to become one new health system.
When we announced our plans to come together in April 2015, we believed we could be better together. After a year of thoughtfully considering our proposed partnership, seeking community feedback, reviewing best practices, conducting extensive research and more, we are excited to see our plans taking shape into a proposed innovative organization that will positively impact the health of our region for generations.
In February 2016, we reached significant milestones in our process with the filing of applications for a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) in Tennessee and a cooperative agreement in Virginia. A COPA/cooperative agreement authorizes Mountain States and Wellmont to merge and directs the states to actively supervise aspects of the proposed new health system to ensure that it continues to benefit the community by providing health care that is affordable, accessible and high quality. The application filings launch the regulatory review and approval stage in Tennessee and Virginia.
Additionally, the boards of directors of both systems have unanimously approved and signed a definitive agreement. The definitive agreement is a binding legal document that outlines how the two health systems would unite our operations upon approval by the states. It is an important step but is not the final step in the process to come together.
In January 2016, we released a pre-submission report, which outlined a series of transformational investments and binding commitments the proposed combined system will make over the next 10 years to improve health in the region. We invited the public to review the report and provide feedback. This feedback, as well as general comments submitted through the website regarding the proposed merger, was reviewed by leaders from both health systems and submitted with our state applications.
Over the coming months, the Joint Board Task Force will continue to oversee work on plans for integrating the two organizations’ operations, cultures and shared vision while health system officials continue their dialogue with state officials. To further demonstrate community involvement in our process, three widely respected community members, Dr. Brian Noland, David Golden and Scott Niswonger, joined the Joint Board Task Force in February 2016.
These actions demonstrate our growing excitement and confidence
that coming together is the right and best path for improving health in our region.
Mountain States and Wellmont have agreed, subject to regulatory approval, to create a new, integrated, locally governed organization with a new name under common governance and management.
Key elements of the proposed future organization include:
- Governance: The proposed new organization will be led by one board of directors and one leadership team composed of current executives from both organizations. This new board would include equal board representation from Wellmont and Mountain States, as well as two new independent members and the President of East Tennessee State University as an ex-officio nonvoting member.
- Management:The proposed new organization would be managed by an executive team with representatives from each organization: Executive Chairman/President Alan Levine, CEO Bart Hove, COO Marvin Eichorn and CFO Alice Pope. Other senior management positions will be determined over time.
- Naming: A name will be created to reflect the new identity of the proposed combined organization.
- Clinical Council: Physicians will have a strong voice during the integration process and will help guide the formation of the proposed new system. The proposed new health system will create a physician-led Clinical Council to guide, advise and assist in implementation of a plan to integrate clinical services and activities, share evidence-based practices and search for clinical opportunities to improve. The Clinical Council will also work over time to establish common standards of care, common and simplified credentialing, consistent multidisciplinary peer review (where appropriate) and quality performance standards.
- Employees: The proposed new health system is committed to attracting and retaining a strong workforce to become one of the leading health care employers in the country. Learn more about our many commitments to our employees here.
As part of the work ahead, a Joint Board Task Force composed of members of the current boards of Wellmont and Mountain States and an Integration Council that includes executives and physicians from both systems will work out plans in more detail.
The Joint Board Task Force members are:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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; and
- 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.
- 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;
- 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;
- 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; and
- 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.
Under terms outlined in the definitive agreement, in February 2016 we expanded the Joint Board Task Force to include three new community members:
- Dr. Brian Noland, president of East Tennessee State University;
- David Golden, of Eastman Chemical Company; and
- Scott Niswonger, of Landair Transport, Inc. and the Niswonger Foundation.
The Integration Council members are:
- 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
- Dale Sargent, system medical director for hospitalist services and former chief medical officer
- Bob Funke, member of the Holston Valley Medical Center physician clinical council and former member of the HVMC board
- Marvin Eichorn, executive vice president and chief operating officer
- 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
- Sandra Brooks, a system board member and vice president of Watauga Pathology Associates