Leaders at Tennessee-based systems Wellmont Health System and the Mountain States Health Alliance have taken the unusual step of requesting public input to identify gaps in care that a merger between them could solve.
Wellmont, based in Kingsport, and MSHA, based in Johnson City, are convening four groups of public health officials, experts and local residents to identify ways to improve regional healthcare problems. They will concentrate on mental health and addiction; pediatric wellness and education; research and academics; and clinical and social barriers to community wellness. The groups will begin meeting throughout the region in July.
Mountain States CEO Alan Levine and Wellmont CEO Bart Hove say the merger isn't about finances—both organizations are in good financial health. Rather, it's part of an ambitious 10-year plan for the combined health system, which aims to address some of the major health issues affecting their communities.
The systems announced in April that they would pursue a merger. A definitive agreement is expected in the fall. Government approval, if given, would likely come by the end of 2015 or in January 2016.