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Wellmont considers aligning with another health system

January 9th, 2014 10:53 am by Hank Hayes

Wellmont considers aligning with another health system

KINGSPORT - Wellmont Health System announced Thursday it is considering “strategic options for the organization’s future,” including the possibility of aligning with another health system.

“Because of the mandate of our vision – to deliver the best health care anywhere – we strongly believe we must act now to ensure Wellmont evolves with the rapidly changing health care industry and continues to provide outstanding care for generations to come,” Buddy Scott, chairman of Wellmont’s board, said in a prepared release. “While this is just the beginning of a process and we do not have many specifics today, it is important to be as transparent as possible with all the people who matter to this organization.”

Wellmont noted health care providers are struggling with low patient volumes, reimbursement cuts and possible performance penalties under Obamacare, also known as the the Affordable Care Act.

Wellmont also cited “extremely low Medicare payment rates” and a high volume of Medicaid and uninsured populations. Virginia and Tennessee, at this point, have decided to not expand Medicaid coverage.

In the 2012 fiscal year, Wellmont said it had a community benefit of $94 million, which included $77 million in uncompensated care, as well as free programs and services provided to the community, and cash and in-kind donations to community groups.

Wellmont also said a recent national survey of health care leaders found 75 percent of health systems were already pursuing or were considering aligning their organization with another system.

“As stewards of a valued community resource, our board of directors and leadership team know it is our responsibility to preserve and advance health care in our region,” said Wellmont CEO Denny DeNarvaez. “Unlike many health systems, Wellmont is fortunate to be in a position of clinical strength and relative financial stability thanks to the great work of our physicians, co-workers and leadership. The board and the administration are committed to continue pursuing all internal options to ensure the financial stability of our health system for the future. However, by proactively embarking on this process, we are taking our future into our own hands and creating a stronger health system for the communities we serve.”

Wellmont said the “guiding principles” that will govern its assessment are:

· A strong commitment to Wellmont’s mission, vision, values and operating philosophy.

· Significant financial strength to advance medical, technological and organizational innovation and to develop new care models for the good of the patients and communities it serves.

· A contribution to long-term economic development, the advancement of health care services and employment opportunities in our region.

· A strong vision for the importance of philanthropy, good stewardship of donated funds and community benefit.
· Optimization of information and medical technology systems.

· A robust physician network and physician recruitment capacity and commitment to physician leadership.

· An extensive knowledge and resource base to optimize operational, financial, clinical and purchasing systems.

“As we explore potential paths, we have the best interest of our hospitals, physicians, patients and the communities we serve in mind, and we will continue to share information as it becomes available,” DeNarvaez said.

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