Region's chambers back Ballad Health COPA

Hank Hayes • Feb 7, 2019 at 3:14 PM

Regional Chambers of Commerce voiced their unified support on Thursday for Ballad Health’s compliance with the Tennessee Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA).

The COPA dictates the terms of the Wellmont-Mountain States merger that created Ballad Health last year. A cooperative agreement governs the Virginia portion of the merger.

The support groups included the Bristol, Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County, Kingsport and Smyth County, Va., chambers, the Greene County Partnership and the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County.

“It is imperative and that Ballad Health retain its ability to fully mobilize its integration plans relative to this region and its primary service areas without undue burden, from any group, other than what the COPA lawfully and comprehensively provides,” the letter stated. “Collectively, we support, without exception, the strategies that the Ballad Health governing board, its executive management team and its 15,000 plus team members have exhaustively confirmed over the past year. It is clearly convincing that these strategies are in the best interest of the entire region. We also realize, as we did before the merger was completed, that certain services would be realigned to better provide a higher quality continuum of care for ALL patients. Ballad Health has committed to comprehensively serve a large geographic region and has demonstrated that access to and delivery of high-quality health care services are the primary drivers for their well informed decisions. This is evidenced by their commitment to create and enhance trauma care services for the entire region, expand pediatric emergency care for the entire region, expand critical specialty care services, and develop and implement population health improvement programs focused on the reduction of prolific chronic health issues so prevalent in our rural communities.

“In closing, it has been made very clear that the intent of the COPA is being met by Ballad Health.”

The support letter was sent to Doug Varney, chair of the state’s COPA compliance committee.

The letter noted that nearly four years ago, the local business community came to the table encouraging the merger of the Wellmont and Mountain States into a “dynamic health care system” for Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

The letter also highlighted the many advantages and benefits the merger has produced throughout the region and expressed appreciation to the COPA Compliance Advisory Committee.

Coinciding with the release of the letter was a Certificate of Public Advantage Local Advisory Council public hearing held Thursday at Northeast State in compliance with the Terms of Certification of the COPA..

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