Wellmont's options include aligning with another health care system

Hank Hayes • Jun 11, 2014 at 9:59 PM

KINGSPORT — Wellmont Health System reported Wednesday it is about halfway through its strategic options analysis, which could include aligning with another health care system.

In a prepared release, Wellmont said nine unidentified health systems submitted a proposal, but three of them are no longer being considered because they did not meet the guiding principles the board of directors established for the process.

Wellmont Board of Directors Chairman Buddy Scott said consulting firm Kaufman Hall & Associates is guiding the board and Wellmont's administration through the proposal evaluation.

"The board has taken the correct approach by evaluating our future as an organization while we are in a position of clinical strength and relative financial stability," Scott said in the release. "We expect several more months of research and discussion are needed before our board will determine final recommendations this fall. This takes considerable time and effort given the substance of these proposals and the importance of the task."

Wellmont added if its board chooses to align with an organization, the present timeline estimates a formal agreement might be reached as early as December.

Scott and Denny DeNarvaez, Wellmont's president and CEO, discuss the alignment options in a letter accompanying the health system's fiscal 2013 report. The letter and the report, which spotlights Wellmont's community benefit, is available at www.wellmont.org/ForwardWithVision.

Wellmont placed that community benefit at $86 million, including $70 million in uncompensated care, to the region during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013.

Wellmont said it continued to enhance its facilities and equipment despite significant reimbursement cuts from the federal government and the failure of Tennessee and Virginia to expand Medicaid.

As a not-for-profit health system, Wellmont said it writes off all charges for patients with incomes less than twice the federal poverty guidelines and 60 percent for uninsured patients who earn more than that amount.

Wellmont's community benefit also included $6 million for health fairs, free seminars and screenings; assistance at Remote Area Medical clinics; and community events such as Camp Caterpillar, a children's grief recovery program. During the fiscal year, Wellmont also provided about $759,000 to local United Way agencies, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the American Heart Association. Wellmont also adopted Epic as its electronic health record provider.

Other investments included the Leonard Family Comprehensive Breast Center at Bristol Regional Medical Center and new radiation oncology technology with Trilogy at Holston Valley Medical Center and the upcoming installation of TrueBeam at Bristol Regional. In addition, Wellmont opened urgent care facilities in Kingsport and Bristol and remodeled emergency departments at Mountain View Regional Medical Center and Hawkins County Memorial Hospital.

The Wellmont Cancer Institute opened an office and treatment facility in Johnson City, and the heart institute added offices in Elizabethton and Lebanon, Va.

For more go to www.wellmont.org.

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