Officials with Mountain States Health Alliance and Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced Friday an affiliation agreement between both health care providers, which leaders believe will bring a greater level of patient care to people in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
“The announcement itself does represent for us a culmination of a search process that’s been driven by a rapidly changing health care environment that we face and it’s designed to better position our organization in particular for success under health care reform,” Mountain States President and CEO Dennis Vonderfecht said during Friday morning’s press conference.
The partnership is part of Mountain States’ 10-year strategic plan.
Vonderfecht said Mountain States had been looking for a partner for about three years.
Vanderbilt Health System CEO Wright Pinson said the system was looking to create a collaborative network of integrated health systems. After forming one in the Nashville area, Vanderbilt formed an affiliation with West Tennessee Healthcare six months ago.
With the addition of Mountain State facilities in Tennessee and Virginia, Vanderbilt’s affiliate network now includes 32 hospitals.
“We are completely focused on how we continue to deliver high quality service and high quality outcomes to patients in a more cost-effective way,” Pinson said.
Pinson likened the partnership with Mountain States to a wedding.
“The reason weddings are happy is because people are delighted about what they’ve accomplished in finding a relationship. Weddings are also happy because they think about the future and what all is going to come out of the relationship, and for me when I think about what we are going to be able to do for patients of this relationship, that is a reason for celebration. I am here to guarantee you people across this state are going to benefit from this relationship,” he said.
The agreement will allow Mountain States to work alongside Vanderbilt in the recruitment of specialists and sub-specialists — which are often hard to find, according to Vonderfecht — to the region.
It will also enhance the level of patient care and allow residents of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia to stay closer to home to receive treatment.
“We do know at this point it provides a further continuum of care that our patients need in this day and time all the way from the basic services in health and wellness to the complex medical treatments that are given out at Vanderbilt,” Vonderfecht said.
Legislators from both Tennessee and Virginia praised the affiliation for what it means to the residents of this region.
“It enhances the quality of health care that they’re going to be exposed to, but even greater than that, it brings together a group that says, ‘We are looking to the future and we’re interested in improving how we deliver health care,’ and that’s a significant challenge today,” Virginia Sen. Phillip Puckett said.
State Sen. Rusty Crowe agreed, saying the partnership between Mountain States and Vanderbilt will be invaluable to the people of this area.
“We’re very proud of this alliance and what it’s going to do for the people that we both serve,” he said.