Vonderfecht to be named 2014 Foundation Spirit Award winner


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – The Mountain States Foundation announced Wednesday that Dennis Vonderfecht will be the recipient of the 2014 Spirit Award, an honor given each year to a person who has passion for his or her community, is recognized as a leader in the region, is highly respected among peers and has demonstrated support for Mountain States Health Alliance’s (MSHA) mission while giving unselfishly of his or her time and talents.

“This year’s Spirit Award winner is a man without whom there would be no Mountain States Foundation, because there would be no Mountain States Health Alliance,” said Pat Holtsclaw, Mountain States Foundation president. “When Dennis came to Northeast Tennessee in 1990 as CEO of Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC), he came with a vision for what our region’s health care services could become.

“Without his vision, strategy, and long-term commitment, we would not have the outstanding health care resources that we enjoy in our region today.”

Vonderfecht will receive the award on Jan. 25 at the Mountain States Foundation’s Spirit Gala held at The Millennium Centre from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are still available for the black-tie gala, and all proceeds benefit radiation oncology patients.

As part of the Spirit Gala, a Prelude event will be held Friday, Jan. 10, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., also at The Millennium Centre. It will feature tapas, sangria and dancing, as well as a silent auction featuring the Foundation’s signature Serendipity event, wines, arts, sports packages and other indulgences.

If RSVPs to the Prelude are received before Thursday at 5 p.m., admission is $50. Tickets at the door are $75. Those who have already purchased Spirit Gala tickets for Jan. 25 also get admission to the Prelude.

In 1998, Vonderfecht’s strategic vision led JCMC to purchase six hospitals from Columbia HCA, forming Mountain States Health Alliance with JCMC as its flagship. As the newly-formed health system began to develop its own identity and character, he helped define the organization’s mission, vision, and values, along with 10 guiding principles of patient-centered care that help to keep all team members engaged in their mission of bringing loving care to health care. These ideals, coupled with a rigorous strategic planning process, have allowed the health care system to grow rapidly over the last 15 years while maintaining a culture centered on the patient’s needs.

Today MSHA serves people in 29 counties with a family of 14 hospitals and numerous outpatient clinics, along with retail pharmacies, home health and hospice services, and the region’s only provider-owned health insurance company. Among his most treasured achievements are the establishment of Wings Air Rescue, the region’s first air ambulance service; and the creation of Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

When he retired from MSHA at the end of 2013, Vonderfecht had completed 24 years of service as CEO – a remarkable tenure in an industry where CEOs stay in one place, on average, less than five years.

“During all this time, Dennis has shied away from the spotlight, preferring instead to give credit to the team members who make up MSHA,” Holtsclaw said. “But we want to honor him for all he’s done for the region. He’s very deserving of the Spirit Award.”

The theme for this year’s Spirit Gala is “Tiempo de Fiesta!” Tickets are still available for $200 apiece. The event will include the award presentation as well as dinner, cocktails, music by Frito Puente, a live auction and the drawing for and announcement of the winner of the Spirit Gala Raffle. The winner gets a choice of one of three new cars from Champion Chevrolet Cadillac of Johnson City or $25,000 in cash.

An Encore event will immediately follow the Gala, offering music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres and a coffee bar.

To RSVP, call the Foundation at 423-302-3131 or email WillisTN2@msha.com. For more information, visit www.mshafoundation.org

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