Mountain States Health Alliance has hired Tracy Byers, CEO of Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City, Okla., to serve as the new administrator of Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.
Byers is set to begin work at UCMH Sept. 9. Interim Director Jete Edmisson will continue in that position through Sept. 30 to help the staff with the transition.
Candace Jennings, senior vice president of Tennessee operations for MSHA, notified the UCMH Board of Control of Byers’ selection at the board’s regular meeting Monday night.
UCMH is currently operating under a management agreement with MSHA pending the hospital’s anticipated acquisition by the health system.
The hospital’s sale to MSHA was approved by the Board of Control in November but its finalization has been delayed by the Tennessee Attorney General who has expressed several concerns about the acquisition, including the board’s failure to secure approval of the sale from the governing bodies of the town of Erwin and Unicoi County as required by the hospital’s charter.
Erwin’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to approve the sale on July 22 and the Unicoi County Commission is scheduled to consider the sale at its next regular meeting on Monday.
If the County Commission gives it approval, Edmisson said the hospital will immediately forward the needed documentation to the Attorney General with hope that the sale can be finalized as soon as possible.
“The Attorney General could take 30 days, or 90 days, or it could be that same day he gets it. We’re looking forward to it being as soon as possible,” Edmisson said.
“The staff is really looking forward to being a part of it and me too. There are so many advantages to being part of a (hospital) system that a small hospital in this world just can’t compete with.”
Jennings said Byers has extensive experience with hospitals that are similar in size to UCMH and with hospital-based long-term care like that provided at UCMH.
Byers has served as CEO of Great Plains Regional Medical Center since 2012 and previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Harton Regional Medical Center in Tullahoma since 2011.
He served as CEO of Muhlenberg Community Hospital in Greenville, Ky., from 2008 to 2011 and as assistant administrator and interim administrator of long-term care at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, N.C., from 2006 to 2008. Muhlenberg Community Hospital and Chatham Memorial Hospital are both owned by Alliant Management Services of Louisville, Ky.
Byers served as associate administrator for commitment to quality at Tennet Healthcare in Dallas from 2004 to 2006 and from 2001 to 2004 as associate administrator and director of business development for Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford, N.C., which is owned by Tennet.
He served as an administrative fellow at Northcrest Medical Center in Springfield, Tenn., from 2000-2001 and as an administrative intern at Northcrest from 1999-2000.
He holds a master’s of Healthcare Administration degree from the University of North Carolina, a master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Louisville, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from David Lipscomb University.
MSHA’s acquisition proposal includes the construction of a new facility for UCMH and Jennings said Byers has experience in the oversight of multiple hospital capital construction projects.
Edmisson told the board, “as you begin planning your new facility, it will be good to have him here for that first meeting, already on the ground with that training.”
According to Jennings, Byers is a Tennessee native. He and his wife, Evie, have three children and they said they plan to make their home in Unicoi County.
In other the business, the board of control approved a recommendation from UCMH Chief Financial Officer Toni Buchanan to contract auditors for a 15-month audit of the hospital for the period ending Sept. 30 rather than a 12-month audit for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Buchanan said the 15-month audit would allow the hospital to avoid the expense of conducting a second audit that will be required as soon as the acquisition by MSHA is complete.
She said the Tennessee Comptrollers Office has given its approval for the 15-month audit and will authorize the audit to be extended to an 18-month period ending Jan. 30 if needed,
Edmisson said the hospital hopes the sale will be approved by the Attorney General and completed before Sept. 30.