Wellmont, Mountain States Announce Chairs, Meeting Dates for Community Health Work Groups

Community round table meetings to solicit public input on important health issues in the region

KINGSPORT and JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – (August 5, 2015) – Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System have scheduled a series of community meetings to solicit input as the organizations work together to solve some of the region’s most challenging health issues, as part of the proposed merger.

The meetings are part of the health systems’ previously announced work groups initiative that will focus on four key areas: Mental Health & Addiction; Healthy Children & Families; Population Health & Healthy Communities; and Research & Academics. More than 100 community members responded to the call for participation through the BecomingBetterTogether.org website, and dozens more were recommended by key stakeholders as valuable participants in the process.

“We are pleased with the sincere interest throughout the region, and we are grateful for these distinguished members of the community who have agreed to lead these work groups,” said Alan Levine, president and CEO of Mountain States.

Eight community leaders have agreed to serve as chairpersons leading the four work groups:

  • Mental Health & Addiction: Dr. Teresa Kidd, president and CEO of Frontier Health, and Eric Greene, senior vice president of Virginia services for Frontier Health;
  • Healthy Children & Families: Dr. David Wood, chair of the department of pediatrics at East Tennessee State University and chief medical officer of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and Travis Staton, CEO of United Way of Southwest Virginia;
  • Population Health & Healthy Communities: Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of ETSU’s College of Public Health, and Lori Hamilton, RN, director of healthy initiatives for K-VA-T Food City;
  • Research & Academics: Dr. Wilsie Bishop, vice president for health affairs and chief operating officer of East Tennessee State University, and Jake Schrum, president of Emory & Henry.

“This is a tremendously talented group of individuals with expertise that spans multiple disciplines and geographic regions,” said Bart Hove, president and CEO of Wellmont. “We are honored to have them on board in this process and will benefit from their broad knowledge and community involvement.”

The public has a critical role to play in this process. The College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) will coordinate a series of community round table meetings designed to give residents an opportunity to provide input on the most pressing health concerns they see in their communities. The round table meetings will be held in various locations throughout the region, with a goal of soliciting input from a broad audience, including rural areas.

In addition, Wellmont and Mountain States leaders are partnering with ETSU and the work group chairs to assemble steering committees for each focus area. The steering committees will hold separate meetings to examine top health issues and also review presentations from health experts and community members. Wellmont and Mountain States officials are working with the eight chairpersons to finalize membership for the steering committees. Once complete, the members’ names will be posted on BecomingBetterTogether.org. Both the community round table meetings and the work group steering committee meetings are open to the public.

The first two community round table meetings will take place Aug. 13 and Aug. 20.

  • Thursday, August 13, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology, 425 TN-91, Elizabethton, Tenn.

  • Thursday, August 20, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, One Partnership Circle, Abingdon, Va.

Community members who wish to attend a meeting are asked to RSVP online at BecomingBetterTogether.org. Additional meetings will be scheduled in the coming weeks; for the most up-to-date schedule, visit BecomingBetterTogether.org.

The public meetings will be facilitated by ETSU’s College of Public Health and will feature a “world café” style discussion with participants circulating through a series of small group tables to exchange thoughts and ideas. ETSU staff will record the information presented during the meetings and compile findings from the meetings into a comprehensive report that will be used by the proposed new health system.

“Here in our region, there is a cycle of poor health that we see being passed from one generation to the next,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health. “Our goal is to gather information that will allow the proposed new health improvement organization to use its resources to help break that intergenerational cycle of poor health. The proposed merger between Mountain States and Wellmont affords our region the opportunity to impact health in ways that weren’t possible in the past, so this is a very exciting opportunity from a public health perspective.”

About Wellmont Health System

Wellmont Health System is a leading provider of health care services for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, delivering top-quality, comprehensive health care, wellness, and long-term care services across the region. Wellmont facilities include Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.; Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tenn.; Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Norton, Va.; Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap, Va.; Hawkins County Memorial Hospital in Rogersville, Tenn.; and Hancock County Hospital in Sneedville, Tenn. For more information about Wellmont, please visit www.wellmont.org.

About Mountain States Health Alliance

Since 1998, Mountain States Health Alliance has been bringing the nation’s best health care close to home to serve the residents of Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina. This not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates family of 13 hospitals serving a 29-county region. Mountain States offers a large tertiary hospital with level 1 trauma center, a dedicated children’s hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, a behavioral health hospital, two long-term care facilities, home care and hospice services, retail pharmacies, a comprehensive medical management corporation, and the region’s only provider-owned health insurance company. The team members, physicians and volunteers who make up Mountain States Health Alliance are committed to caring for you and earning your trust. For more information, visit www.mountainstateshealth.com.