Joining Forces to Improve Health Care in the Region
We are excited to share with the public this pre-submission report that is the result of more than nine months of extensive work by physician leaders, board members and executives from Wellmont and Mountain States and hundreds of conversations with people all across our region about the area’s critical health needs and how best to address them.
This public report outlines important commitments the new health system to be formed by the proposed merger will make about how we will operate and uniquely serve the community together.
The report also describes a series of transformational investments we will make as a combined system over the next 10 years to improve health in the region. These investments will be achieved through financial efficiencies gained through the proposed merger and the proposed new health system’s commitment to reinvest those savings for community benefit and health improvement.
If you would like to learn more about our shared vision for health care in the region, click here to read the full pre-submission report. We also invite you to provide feedback using the form included on this page.
The pre-submission report describes specific commitments in six key areas over the next 10 years:
Commitment to Improve Community Health.
Commitments include investing at least $75 million over 10 years in population health improvement, including:
- Ensuring strong starts for children by investing in programs to reduce the incidence of low-birthweight babies and neonatal abstinence syndrome, decrease the prevalence of childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes, while improving the management of childhood diabetes and increasing the percentage of children in third grade reading at grade level;
- Helping adults live well in the community by investing in programs that decrease premature mortality from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer;
- Promoting a drug-free community by investing in programs that prevent the use of controlled substances in youth and teens (including tobacco), reduce the overprescription of painkillers, and provide crisis management and residential treatment with community-based support for individuals addicted to drugs; and
- Decreasing avoidable hospital visits and ER use by connecting high-need, high-cost uninsured individuals in the community to the care and services needed by investing in intensive case management support and primary care and leveraging additional investments in behavioral health crisis management, residential addiction treatment and intensive outpatient treatment services.
Enhanced Healthcare Services.
Commitments include spending at least $140 million over 10 years pursuing specialty services, which otherwise could not be sustainable in the region without the financial support, including:
- Creating new capacity for residential addiction recovery services connected to expanded outpatient treatment services located in communities throughout the region;
- Developing community-based mental health resources, such as mobile health crisis management teams and intensive outpatient treatment and addiction resources for all ages designed to minimize inpatient psychiatric admissions, incarceration and other out-of-home placements;
- Ensuring recruitment and retention of pediatric subspecialists in accordance with the Niswonger Children’s Hospital physician needs assessment;
- Developing pediatric specialty centers and emergency rooms in Kingsport and Bristol with further deployment of pediatric telemedicine and rotating specialty clinics in rural hospitals to ensure quick diagnosis and treatment in the right setting as close to patients’ homes as possible; and
- Developing a comprehensive physician needs assessment and recruitment plan every three years in each community served by the proposed organization.
Expand Access and Choice.
- Maintaining three full-service tertiary referral hospitals in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol to ensure higher-level services are available as closely as possible to where the population lives;
- Maintaining open medical staffs at all facilities, subject to the rules and conditions of the organization medical staff of each facility;
- Not requiring independent physicians to practice exclusively at the proposed new health system’s hospitals and other facilities, and not taking steps to prohibit independent physicians from participating in health plans and health networks of their choice.
Improve Health Care Value: Managing Quality, Cost and Services.
- Implementing a common information technology platform to support the regional exchange of health information, connect our hospitals, physicians and other caregivers, and allow the combined system to offer higher quality, more convenient and more cost-effective care for patients;
- Reducing the current pace of health care cost increases for the benefit of our community;
- Working with independent physician groups to develop a local, regionwide, clinical services network to share data, best practices and efforts to improve outcomes for patients and the overall health of the region; and
- Participating meaningfully in a health information exchange open to community providers.
- Not engage in “most-favored-nation” pricing with any health plans.
Invest in Health Research and Graduate Medical Education.
- Investing not less than $85 million over 10 years to build and sustain research infrastructure, increase residency and training slots, create new specialty fellowship training opportunities and add faculty;
- Developing and implementing with our academic partners in Virginia and Tennessee a 10-year plan for post-graduate training of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants and other allied health professionals in the region;
- Working closely with East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and other academic institutions in Tennessee and Virginia to develop and implement a 10-year plan for investment in research and growth in the research enterprise within the region.
Attract and Retain Strong Workforce.
- Offering competitive pay and benefits for all employees to attract and retain the best and brightest team members;
- Honoring prior service credit for eligibility and vesting under the employee benefit plans maintained by Wellmont and Mountain States and providing all employees credit for accrued vacation and sick leave;
- Working as quickly as practicable after completion of the proposed merger to address any differences in salary/pay rates and employee benefit structures; and
- Combining the best of both organizations’ career development programs in order to ensure maximum opportunities.