Wellmont, MHSA get final OK to merge into Ballad Health

The merger of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) cleared its last hurdle on Jan. 31, as the Tennessee Department of Health issued the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) allowing the deal to be completed.

Johnson City, Tennessee-based MHSA and Kingsport, Tennessee-based Wellmont had won approval from regulators in both Virginia and Tennessee, despite objections from the Federal Trade Commission, which had argued the new system would control 71 percent of the geographic areas currently served by the separate companies.

“Clearly a great deal of work on the part of all involved has gone into this groundbreaking result. We can be proud of the thoughtful, deliberate, transparent and community-accountable process it has been, one I know we all look forward to continuing,” said Tennessee health commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Our job as the state was to determine whether a merger of the two systems could create a clear public benefit to the people of this wonderful and vibrant region, a responsibility we took and will continue to take very seriously as we enter this next exciting and important phase.”

The combined system will be known as Ballad Health, managing 21 hospitals and employing more than 15,000 people in the tri-cities region along the Tennessee-Virginia border. Ahead of the anticipated approval of the COPA, the Ballad Health logo and promotional market began to be rolled out on social media.

The new system also announced several leadership changes at its facilities. Stan Hickson, MHA, has been named new CEO of Ballad’s operations in Washington County, Tennessee, having formerly served as a market CEO for MHSA. His past roles include president of Northside Medical Center in Columbus, Georgia, and chief operating officer at Palmetto Health in Columbia, South Carolina. Additionally, John Jeter, MBA, has been moved from chief financial officer of the Northeast market to CEO of the Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Virginia.