Unicoi County Memorial Hospital joins MSHA


ERWIN, Tenn. – Unicoi County Memorial Hospital (UMCH) has officially joined Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), hospital officials announced Friday.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s office sent a letter of no action to UCMH and MSHA attorneys on Wednesday, giving the two parties permission to proceed with the transaction. Legal documentation of the sale is now complete, and UCMH is the 14th hospital to join MSHA.

“We have a lot to celebrate today,” said Tracy Byers, the hospital’s administrator. “Our team members have waited a long time for the resolution of this sale, and we are excited that we can now move forward with building our hospital up to be the best it can be.”

Now that the hospital is part of MSHA, the health system can begin making critical investments in the facility, like information technology upgrades and necessary repairs to the hospital building. Plans for construction of the new facility will also begin to move forward.

“We have made some important promises to the people of Unicoi County with respect to their hospital,” said Dennis Vonderfecht, president and CEO of MSHA. “Now it is time for us to fulfill those promises. We are so grateful for the support we’ve seen from the community and the relationships we’ve built throughout this acquisition process, and we’re excited about what the future holds for Unicoi County Memorial Hospital.”

The strategic planning process will begin immediately to paint a clear picture of the role the hospital will play in the community at large. The strategic plan will help shape plans for the replacement facility as well as plans for continuing operation of the nursing home.

 “We will be meeting with key stakeholders in the community over the next several months to get their input on what they want to see from their local hospital,” said Allison Rogers, MSHA’s vice president of strategic planning. “We have already conducted the community health needs assessment, which tells us what the area of focus need to be in terms of creating a healthier community. Now it’s time to find out how the hospital itself can help meet those needs. We will also conduct a detailed financial analysis to develop a strategy for assuring the hospital’s continued stability in the era of healthcare reform.”

The strategic planning process is expected to take several months. Architect selection for the new facility will take place in late 2014, with construction expected to begin in 2015. The replacement hospital is expected to open in 2017 at its new location on Temple Hill Road off Exit 40 in Erwin. To view the UCMH community health needs assessment, visit www.msha.com/UCMHhealthneeds.

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