Wellmont buys 42 acres in Boones Creek area

Rick Wagner • Sep 20, 2007 at 12:00 AM

BOONES CREEK — Wellmont Health System has bought about 42 acres of land in Boones Creek off Interstate 26 for almost $5.8 million, according to records on file in Washington and Sullivan counties.

A deed, dated Sept. 13 and filed with the Washington County Register of Deeds Office in Jonesborough, indicates Wellmont paid 13 owners $5.78 million for the land adjoining Christian Church Road, Boone Station Road and Lake Park Drive, near the Jonesborough exit of I-26 and behind a Mexican restaurant. It is known as the Carter property.

Wellmont already owns property on State of Franklin Road in Johnson City but failed to get the required Tennessee certificate of need for a proposed for-profit hospital involving Wellmont and physicians.

“We don’t want to get into hypotheticals,” Wellmont spokesman Brad Lifford said when asked if the Boones Creek land was a prospective hospital or physicians building site.

“All the property we have in Washington County is part of our strategy,” Lifford said. “We’re pleased to have acquired an important piece of property in one of the region’s fastest-growing areas. As we continue to develop and refine our future strategic plans, we’re confident this acquisition will enable us to better meet the health care needs of people in Washington County and across our region.”

Ed Herbert, vice president of marketing and communications for the competing Mountain States Health Alliance based in Johnson City, responded Thursday: “Mountain States Health Alliance is already meeting the needs of the people of Washington County.”

He cited The Children’s Hospital at Johnson City Medical Center, the pending merger of North Side and Specialty hospitals into a new hospital off State of Franklin Road, and JCMC’s ranking for the seventh year in a row as the preferred health care provider by the National Research Corp. He said further comment was premature until Wellmont announces concrete plans for the land.

The owners were listed as Larry Haynes, Margaret C. Anderson, Ann C. Gaudet, Cindia Carter Jumper, Lisa Carter Hickok, William Jackson Carter III, Ann Helen Carter Cunningham, Harold E. Walker and Janice C. Walker, trustees of a join revocable living trust, Bowman Family General Partnership, Bowman Family Partnership, Julia Beeson Bowman Martin, AHN Beeson Bowman Bradley, and Marilyn Beeson Bowman.

According to the deed, filed by Bristol, Va., attorney Elizabeth Smith Jones, William Jackson Carter II and Ann Helen Carter Cunningham are on the deed to confirm termination of a trust and to convey any remaining interest that trust may have, and Tony Joe Martin is conveying an interest he may have through his marriage to Julia Beeson Bowman Martin.

Meanwhile, the commonwealth of Virginia so far has declined to grant Wellmont and HealthSouth Corp. a certificate of public need (COPN) for a proposed rehabilitation hospital in Bristol, Va.

Wellmont Health System and HealthSouth April 17 announced plans for a new partnership, Wellmont/HealthSouth IRF LLC, to own and operate HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, an existing 50-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital at 113 Cassell Drive, Kingsport, next to Wellmont’s Holston Valley Medical Center. The venture also is asking the Virginia Department of Health to build a jointly operated 25-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Bristol, Va.

MSHA owns and operates the 60-bed James H. and Cecile C. Quillen Rehabilitation Hospital in Johnson City. Herbert said that facility, named for the late congressman Jimmy Quillen and his wife, is meeting the rehabilitation needs of the region.

The letter of intent was filed May 1, but the Health Planning Agency of Southwest Virginia staff on July 21 recommended denial following a July 11 public hearing in Bristol where MSHA voiced opposition.

The local agency board Aug. 1 voted 5-4 for denial, and the state agency recommended denial Aug. 19. On Sept. 7, HealthSouth requested a continuance and can appeal to the commissioner of health.

“We simply agree with the state of Virginia,” MSHA spokesman James Watson said.

Wellmont’s Lifford Thursday afternoon said he was seeking information about the COPN issue.

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