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Norton, Dickenson hospitals join MSHA

Staff report • Jan 17, 2007 at 10:03 AM

NORTON - Norton Community Hospital and Dickenson Community Hospital officials announced an agreement Wednesday for their facilities to join the Mountain States Health Alliance.

MSHA, a Johnson City-based not- for-profit health care system, is the largest health care organization in the region. The addition of the Norton and Clintwood facilities to the fold brings the organization to 13 member facilities.

"The relationship between Norton Community Hospital and Mountain States has been close for some time as (NCH) has been a member of the Mountain States health care network for years," said Freddie E. Mullins, legal counsel for the two Virginia hospitals. "We are excited about what this partnership will mean for our hospitals and our communities."

Dickenson Community Hospital is a wholly owned subsidiary of NCH. The agreement between the NCH board of directors and MSHA is for each group to hold an equal partnership in the hospitals and for MSHA to furnish management services. The staffs at each of the Virginia hospitals will continue to be employed at their respective facilities.

"Norton has traditionally hired an outside management agency to run its facilities. This new agreement will provide management - Mountain States - that is actually invested in the success of our facilities," said MSHA President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht. "This partnership offers many exciting opportunities in the coming years for all involved."

Officials said details have yet to be finalized, and the agreement must also pass the review of the Virginia attorney general. Mullins said that process may take six months.

"But we do have confidence the partnership will move forward for the betterment of the communities," Mullins said.

Norton Community Hospital is a 129-bed facility with approximately 600 employees founded in 1949. Dickenson Community Hospital is a 25-bed facility with about 115 employees resurrected from closure by NCH in 2003.

The last year saw MSHA grow in the region with the merger of Smyth County Community Hospital and the opening of a Wings Air Rescue base in Jenkins, Ky., just across the state border with Wise County. The Children's Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center also serves as a major provider for the needs of children unavailable at local community hospitals.

Other MSHA facilities include JCMC, North Side Hospital, Johnson City Specialty Hospital, James H. & Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital, and Woodridge Hospital, all in Washington County, Tenn.; Sycamore Shoals Hospital in Carter County, Johnson County Health Center in Mountain City; Indian Path Medical Center and Indian Path Pavilion, both in Sullivan County; Blue Ridge Medical Management, which operates First Assist Urgent Care Centers, ValuCare Clinics in Food City stores, and numerous primary care offices; and Medical Center HomeCare and Hospice Services throughout the Tri-Cities region.

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