Ballad Health announces organizational changes, increased physician leadership, creation of Ballad Behavioral Health Services Division and creation of Ballad Health Innovation Center

Realignment reflects commitment to value-based care, clinical excellence

Johnson City, Tenn., Aug. 01, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --

In order to best serve the region in a rapidly changing healthcare landscape, Ballad Health today announced several organizational changes.

Physician Leadership

Nine physicians with more than 100 years of combined experience caring for patients in the Appalachian Highlands region have been named to key leadership roles within Ballad Health.

“Ballad Health seeks to be a national leader in both clinical quality and value-based care,” said Alan Levine, Chairman and CEO. “Over the course of the last 18 months, we have seen dramatic improvement in key quality measures, and we have seen our hospitals recognized from being among the Top 10 in Tennessee to being among the best places to work in Tennessee, according to US News and Forbes Magazines. This is happening because our physicians have sought to partner with us in a sustained effort to achieve these goals.

“We believe the only way we will sustain success is to create more opportunities for collaboration with physicians. Our trusted clinical experts will help lead the way forward as we seek closer partnerships with the federal government, state Medicaid programs and our payer partners who all want closer value-based relationships.”

An example of the type of collaboration Ballad Health intends to expand through physician leadership came this year when Washington County, Tenn., Mayor Joe Grandy shared that a partnership between Washington County’s employee health plan, Ballad Health and BlueCross BlueShield resulted in a nearly 10 percent decrease in county employee healthcare costs. That reduction was passed onto county employees, and the taxpayers benefitted.

Heading up Ballad Health’s physician leadership structure will be Dr. Clay Runnels, who will serve as Chief Physician Executive. In this role, he will have oversight of all clinical services, quality, service lines, Ballad Health Medical Associates, health research and graduate medical education. Runnels is a licensed emergency physician and has served in various leadership positions in the health system since 2000. Runnels has helped spearhead several award-winning projects including initiatives to reduce time to treatment for oncology patients, and to streamline the physician credentialing process. He has participated in the development of regional stroke care protocols as well as a teleneurology program. Runnels is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, a member of the Tennessee College of Emergency Physicians and the American Association of Physician Leadership.

Dr. Amit Vashist will serve as Chief Clinical Officer, focusing on clinical quality, value-based initiatives to improve quality while reducing cost of care, performance improvement, oversight of the clinical delivery of care and will be the liaison to the Ballad Health Clinical Council – a leading model of physician partnership for quality improvement.

Vashist, one of the 2018 Becker’s Hospital Review 112 Physician Leaders to know in America, is a dual board-certified internist and psychiatrist and an avid proponent of initiatives aimed at promoting quality, reducing cost and minimizing variation in the delivery of care in the hospital-based setting. His work has been instrumental in improving outcomes and reducing mortality in patients with sepsis, earning him several local, regional and national awards. His other work has included improving outcomes in patients with heart failure and pneumonia, reducing unnecessary clinical testing including imaging studies and improving patient experience. He has been recognized as a regional Healthcare Hero and Forty under 40 honoree and is a fellow of The American College of Healthcare Executives. Vashist currently serves as chair of the Ballad Health Clinical Council and system chair for Ballad Health’s hospitalist division.

Dr. Matthew Loos will serve as Chief Academic Officer, overseeing academic programs and partnerships as well as graduate medical education programs. Loos has served as Chief Medical Officer of Ballad Health’s Washington County (Tenn.) market since 2016 and will also continue in that role on an interim basis while a search is conducted for his replacement. He is board-certified in general surgery. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado, his medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine and his masters of business administration from Auburn University. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Chris Metzger will serve as System Chair of Clinical Research, overseeing the advancement of clinical research activities within Ballad Health hospitals and clinics, including clinical trials. Metzger is a practicing interventional cardiologist who serves as director of Holston Valley Medical Center’s diagnostic catheterization and interventional labs. Metzger has helped Holston Valley earn national and international acclaim in cardiology, and his work has led to significant growth in cardiac clinical trials and research. Under Metzger’s leadership, the cardiology program at Holston Valley has performed as the No. 1 or No. 2 enroller in the United States and globally in at least 29 top research trials, including being the current leading enroller in four major trials. Advancements made through this work not only improved cardiac care for patients nationwide, but gave local patients first access to leading-edge treatments and therapies. Metzger has also forged a strong professional relationship with Harvard Medical School. Seven times, he has hosted endovascular fellows to train at Holston Valley before completing their education.

Dr. Mark Patterson will serve as President of Ballad Health Medical Associates, overseeing operation of more than 800 physicians, advanced practice providers and urgent care services. Patterson has served as a general surgeon in Greeneville since 1995, when he joined Greeneville Surgical Associates. In 2012, he joined Laughlin Medical Group, where he held both clinical and leadership roles, including Chief Medical Officer. Patterson received his medical degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Medicine in Memphis, and he completed his internship and residency at East Tennessee State University. He is board-certified by the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Patterson is an armed services veteran, serving in the United States Army from 1978-1983 and the Army Reserves until 2000.

Dr. Mark Wilkinson will serve as Vice President of Medical Staff Services and Hospital Based Programs, overseeing all aspects of physician credentialing, medical staff governance, peer review and hospital-based programs and services. An emergency medicine physician, Wilkinson holds board certification from the American Board of Family Medicine. Wilkinson graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s Medical School, and he completed his general surgery internship and family medicine residency at East Tennessee State University. Since 1995, Wilkinson has cared for patients in 10 different Ballad Health emergency departments, serving in multiple leadership roles that include faculty positions with ETSU, emergency department medical director, medical executive committee member, chief of staff, hospital board appointments and management and ownership of a large regional emergency medicine group prior to taking on executive roles within the health system. Over the past 6 years, he has served as chief medical officer for Ballad Health’s Southeast and Northwest Markets. Wilkinson’s other achievements include Board Fellowship status, Certified Physician Executive endorsement and an MBA from Milligan College in 2017.

Wilkinson has a passion for emergency medical services and has held a variety of medical director roles for regional EMS agencies. In 2016, Dr. Wilkinson became the sixth physician in the state to receive the Dr. C. Robert Clark EMS Medical Director Award presented by the Tennessee Ambulance Service Association for outstanding service to EMS. In addition to his role with Ballad Health, Dr. Wilkinson serves on the board of directors for the Tennessee Hospital Association and as chairman of the board for Washington County/Johnson City EMS.

Dr. Herb Ladley has been named Chief Medical Officer for Ballad Health’s Northwest Division. Ladley has a long tenure as a physician leader at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport. As a cardiologist, he has served in various leadership roles for cardiovascular services in Kingsport as a senior physician, and he was system vice president for cardiovascular services for Wellmont Health System for eight years. Under his leadership, Holston Valley Medical Center has earned several state and national recognitions as a top heart and cardiology hospital.

Ladley’s distinguished career includes stints as chairman of the department of internal medicine at Holston Valley Medical Center; president of the hospital’s medical staff; chairman of the Holston Valley credentials committee; medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab; medical director for cardiac services at Holston Valley Medical Center and Holston Valley Heart Institute; and on various boards of directors, among numerous other roles. Ladley graduated from Vanderbilt University and earned his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk. He completed his internship and residency at the University of Florida and completed a fellowship at Oregon Health Sciences University. He is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a fellow with the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. He has board certifications from the American Board of Internal Medicine in cardiovascular disease and internal medicine.

Dr. Daniel Lewis has been named Chief Medical Officer for both campuses of Greeneville Community Hospital. Lewis is a board-certified family medicine physician with an additional certificate of added qualification in sports medicine. He received his medical degree from East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine with a curriculum focus on rural health. He completed a family medicine residency at Self Regional Healthcare in Greenwood, S.C., where he was recognized as South Carolina Academy of Family Physicians’ Outstanding Resident of the Year in his training; he then completed a Sports Medicine fellowship at Wake Forest, and currently serves as the team physician for Tusculum University and the Greeneville Reds minor league baseball team. He completed his Certified Physician Executive degree in 2011 and has served as Chief Medical Officer at Takoma Regional since 2012. He is the current Vice President of the Tennessee Academy of Family Physicians.

Dr. Shari Rajoo has been named Chief Medical Officer for Population Health Services. Rajoo is a primary care physician who has worked with Ballad Health for 10 years, most recently serving as Assistant Vice President and Medical Director of Population Health for Ballad Health Medical Associates. She has served as Medical Director of Quality Improvement for Ballad Health’s Medical Group, focusing on quality improvement and helping optimize performance on value-based contracts. Prior to that, she served as Medical Director for the health system’s Patient Centered Medical Home initiative. She is also Medical Director for the AnewCare Collaborative, Ballad Health’s accountable care organization; Medical Director for the Diabetes Team Member Program at Ballad Health and chair of the Integrated Health Solutions Network Credentialing Committee. Rajoo works closely with the departments of Population Health and Community Health to provide clinical support for performance on COPA/CA metrics and underlying initiatives. In addition, Rajoo serves on the following Ballad Health committees: Population Health Clinical Steering Committee; Patient, Family and Provider Experience Subcommittee; Ballad Health Medical Associates Controlled Substance Advisory Committee; Clinical Council; and High Value/ Evidence-Based Medicine Subcommittee. Rajoo earned her Bachelor of Science in microbiology and Master of Science in molecular biology at the University of Southern Mississippi. She earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, and completed her residency training in family medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Syracuse, NY. She is a diplomat of the American Board of Family Medicine and holds memberships with the American Association for Physician Leadership and the American College of Healthcare Executives.


In addition to the six physician appointments, a number of other key leadership moves will position Ballad Health to better meet the needs of the community and support hospital operations.

Eric Deaton has been named Ballad Health’s Chief Operating Officer, with oversight of Ballad Health’s systemwide operations, including the newly created Behavioral Services Division. Deaton has served in leadership roles in Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina for about two decades, providing vision and strategic thinking to help take organizations to the next level. Previously, Deaton was Wellmont Health System’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. He has also held the title of market president for LifePoint Hospitals, where he directed the collective operations of Danville Regional Medical Center and Memorial Hospital of Martinsville, both in South Central Virginia. He also served as president and chief executive officer of Danville Regional from 2010 until 2013. Earlier in his career, Deaton was market chief executive officer for North Side Hospital, Johnson City Specialty Hospital and Northeast Tennessee Rehabilitation Hospital. Deaton earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Milligan College, a master's degree in business administration from Bristol College and a master’s of healthcare administration from the University of Cincinnati. He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. 

Marvin Eichorn has been named Ballad Health’s Chief Administrative Officer, with oversight of corporate operations and services, and Ballad Health’s value-based services administrative organization. Eichorn has held senior leadership roles within the health system since 1998, including Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to his tenure in the area, he served at Covenant Health/Fort Sanders Health System in Knoxville for 14 years, holding positions including Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Eichorn serves on the board of directors of the Tennessee Hospital Association, where he recently completed a term as Chair of the Board. He also serves on the boards of the Northeast State Community College Foundation, AEIX and the Girl Scouts. He previously received the Meritorious Service Award for an executive staff member from the Tennessee Hospital Association. Eichorn is a certified public accountant. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of West Florida and a master’s degree in finance from Milligan College.

Taylor Hamilton has been named Ballad Health’s Chief Consumer Officer, a new role being created to develop new and innovative interactions with patients and families, listening to the needs of consumers and physicians and using those insights to develop an improved patient experience. Hamilton will continue to oversee marketing and communications in addition to the implementation of a new “virtual front door” to Ballad Health. With the implementation of the Epic Health Information System in all Ballad Health facilities next year, Ballad Health will have the ability to bring consumer health information directly to consumers, putting more control and information into the hands of the consumer. This single electronic health platform, or virtual front door, will lead to a better experience, with patients being able to schedule their appointments through their own computers and mobile devices, view information, communicate with their physicians and providers and seek information related to their conditions. Hamilton holds a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Florida and a master’s in biotechnology enterprise from Johns Hopkins University.

Ballad Behavioral Health Services 

In order to achieve success in a value-based health care environment and to achieve the goals for improved access to behavioral services for the region, Ballad Health is creating the Ballad Behavioral Health Services Division. In anticipation of millions of dollars of investment into serving this critical need for services in collaboration with other community partners, Ballad Health has tapped a seasoned healthcare expert to oversee the implementation of this division and the services provided.

Trish Baise will serve as CEO of Ballad Health’s Behavioral Health Services, with oversight of all inpatient and outpatient services including Overmountain Recovery, and 186 behavioral health beds throughout the system including those at Woodridge Hospital and Ridgeview Pavilion. She will oversee service line relationships with all mental health and addiction services provided by Ballad Health as well as administer Ballad Health’s $85 million, 10-year behavioral health plan focused on improving health and patient outcomes through community partnerships and integration. Baise, a registered nurse with broad experience in hospital leadership and quality improvement, has served in various nursing leadership roles within the health system since 2009, including chief nursing officer and later CEO of Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Woodridge. During her tenure, Franklin Woods and Woodridge have received multiple national awards for clinical quality, patient satisfaction and nursing excellence. Franklin Woods has been twice named one of the top 100 hospitals in the United States by Truven Health Analytics and has received a Pathway to Excellence designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Woodridge has received the Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award for patient satisfaction three years in a row. Baise earned her doctor of nursing practice degree with an emphasis in health system leadership from Vanderbilt University, as well as a master’s in nursing from Vanderbilt. She is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and is a certified nurse executive through the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She also serves on the board of directors of the Tennessee Nurses Association.

The Ballad Health Innovation Center

Ballad Health is announcing the creation of The Innovation Center. The Innovation Center will serve as the hub for development of partnerships and collaborations that can bring to market life-saving initiatives and other technologies and services that can improve the human condition. Interfacing with Ballad Health research programs, and developing partnerships with vendors that add value, The Innovation Center will create opportunities to capitalize on new programs that have potential in the marketplace.

“There is so much innovation going on within the walls of our hospitals and clinics,” said Levine. “Our physicians and our vendor partners are constantly innovating. When we see these opportunities to help bring ideas to market, or to partner with other organizations that have made investments in improving the human condition, Ballad Health wants to be able to facilitate and help capitalize on those ideas and improvements. I suspect there will be many opportunities to partner, which will bring a return on the investment as well as help create jobs here in our region.”

Ballad Health will begin a search to name a CEO for the Innovation Center, who will report to Anthony Keck, Executive Vice President of System Innovation and Chief Population Health Officer.

Photography is available upon request.



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