January 15, 2013

West Tennessee Healthcare and Vanderbilt University Medical Center announce affiliation agreement

Leaders with West Tennessee Healthcare (WTH) and Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced today an affiliation agreement that will expand the scope of health care services in West Tennessee Healthcare’s service area.

“Our affiliation with Vanderbilt University Medical Center will strengthen WTH and our services for the residents of West Tennessee,” said Bobby Arnold, president and CEO of West Tennessee Healthcare. “With the demands created through health care reform, it is important that we collaborate not only with our local physicians, but also with national academic medical centers like Vanderbilt University Medical Center. This affiliation will facilitate the development of new initiatives and services to improve quality of care and access to care, lower the cost of care, and improve the health of the residents in our service area.”

The agreement does not change ownership or management of Jackson-Madison County General Hospital or any of West Tennessee Healthcare’s affiliates. While each party remains free to continue to pursue individual initiatives, the affiliation agreement provides the necessary structure for West Tennessee Healthcare and VUMC to collaborate on programs and services and forge new solutions to improve the quality and lower the cost of patient care in the region.

“We are pleased to announce this affiliation with West Tennessee Healthcare. As nonprofit providers striving to meet the region’s health care needs, we share a common mission,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System. “This affiliation formalizes valued relationships with colleagues at West Tennessee Healthcare. We believe the citizens of West Tennessee will benefit greatly from an enhanced level of integrated care through this affiliation, ultimately making a significant contribution to health care delivery throughout the region.”

The agreement immediately presents opportunities for WTH and VUMC to create joint centers of excellence, educational programs and clinical research collaborations, to develop new clinical information technology tools, and to formally collaborate on specific patient care programs.

“Advancements in research and technology continue to rapidly drive evolution within medicine. At the same time, demands created through health care reform place increasing importance on our ability to adapt and coordinate efficient and effective patient care across broad populations,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Our affiliation with West Tennessee Healthcare offers a tremendous opportunity for both organizations to collaborate and create change in ways that will bring significant benefit to patients.”

Located 130 miles southwest of Nashville in Jackson, Tenn., West Tennessee Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system serving 18 rural western Tennessee counties with a combined population of approximately 500,000. West Tennessee Healthcare’s largest facility, Jackson-Madison County General Hospital is a 635-bed tertiary care center (the only tertiary care center between Memphis and Nashville). Jackson-Madison County General has seven centers of excellence: the Ayers Children's Medical Center, the Tennessee Heart and Vascular Center, Kirkland Cancer Center, West Tennessee Women's Center, West Tennessee Rehabilitation Center, West Tennessee Neuroscience and Spine, and Emergency Services.

Modern Healthcare magazine listed West Tennessee Healthcare as one of the 10 largest public, not-for-profit health care systems in the United States. Employing more than 5,000, West Tennessee Healthcare provides a compendium of patient care services at five additional hospitals including Bolivar General Hospital, Camden General Hospital, Gibson General Hospital, Humboldt General Hospital and Milan General Hospital, and provides a wide range of other services, such as behavioral health, durable medical equipment and primary care and specialty clinics.

With the addition of West Tennessee Healthcare, VUMC is affiliated with a growing family of like-minded, nonprofit medical centers encompassing much of Tennessee. Other affiliate medical centers include Maury Regional Medical Center, NorthCrest Medical Center, Williamson Medical Center, and Cookeville Regional Medical Center. An academic affiliation is in place between Baptist Memorial Health Care of Memphis and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. All institutions share a common mission to serve the health care needs of the citizens of Tennessee.