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Wellmont CVA Heart Institute President talks health care with Roan Scholars

September 19, 2015

JOHNSON CITY (September 19, 2015) – “What is the problem, and how did we get here?” Great leaders ask, reflect on, and thoroughly investigate these questions when facing a challenge. This observation was a key message of Dr. Jerry Blackwell’s talk with Roan Scholars on Friday, September 19 as the first guest in the Roan Program’s “Leadership in Action” series for the fall 2015 semester.

Dr. Blackwell is currently the President of the Wellmont CVA Heart Institute, which provides care to cardiac patients throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. He oversees Wellmont Health System’s cardiovascular programs, which, under his tenure as President of the Heart Institute, have been recognized nationally for providing exceptional cardiac care.

The presentation focused broadly on health care in the United States and, more specifically, on the proposed merger of the Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA). Bringing together the region’s two largest healthcare systems, this proposed merger would have a significant impact on the region, creating an integrated healthcare system that would serve more than 1 million patients across 9,000 square miles.

Dr. Blackwell guided the Roan Scholars through a far-reaching and detailed situational analysis of the Wellmont-MHSA merger. In particular, he highlighted the state of healthcare as a critical context for understanding and evaluating the proposed merger. His presentation incorporated data on the tremendous growth of the healthcare industry over the last 25 years, the impact of healthcare on federal spending, and unique aspects of our local healthcare environment.

Dr. Blackwell also reflected on leadership during some Q/A with the Roan Scholars. “Managers do things right; leaders do the right thing,” Dr. Blackwell said, echoing the work of Warren Bennis, a pioneer in contemporary leadership studies. He encouraged the Roan Scholars to be at “the front of the line when the hard work is being passed out” and to “not lose sight of helping people.”

“Dr. Blackwell shared vital information about healthcare in our area that will help guide me on my journey to the medical field,” said Roan Scholar Mandy Nutter ’19.

The Roan Program’s next guest in its “Leadership in Action” series will be ETSU’s President, Dr. Brian Noland, who will speak with the Roan Scholars on Thursday, October 1.