Transition underway for new MSHA President and CEO - WFLA News Channel 8

Transition underway for new MSHA President and CEO

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) -
In less than two months, a new man will be in charge of the region's biggest health care provider.

On January 6, 2015, Alan Levine will replace Dennis Vonderfecht as Mountain States Health Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer.  

Vonderfecht announced he's retiring at the end of the year.  He was hired to run the Johnson City Medical Center in 1990. Over the past 23 years, he oversaw the formation of MSHA and its growth to include 14 hospitals.

The leadership transition comes at a turbulent time for MSHA and the healthcare industry.
   
"I would be dishonest if I told you I wasn't concerned about it," Levine said in an interview conducted by News Channel 11.
"It's something the Board and I are concerned about.  But I'm optimistic because of the wisdom of Dennis and his team."

Levine comes to MSHA from Health Management Associates in Naples, Florida.  Prior to that, he served in the administrations of two Republican Governors, Jeb Bush in Florida and Bobby Jindal in Louisiana.

"I'm stepping into an organization that has been very well run by the board and capably managed by Dennis and his senior team," said Levine.

Levine's soon-to-be former employer HMA is being sold as he prepares to leave the company.   He says any suspicion that he comes to MSHA with instructions to trim down the company and prepare it to be sold is false.  "Never," Levine said to the question of whether the MSHA board had given him such a mandate.  "Not once.  The priority the board has given me has been to make sure that we are providing every service we can in our communities and to make sure we're doing it in a healthy way and to do it in a way that brings pride and value in this community."

News Channel 11 asked Levine about his appearance in a December 2012 report on the CBS news broadcast "60 Minutes."   In it, Levine answered questions on behalf of HMA after former employees claimed doctors were encouraged to admit patients to increase profits, a claim Levine still denies.  "I wouldn't be part of an organization or I certainly wouldn't go on national television and say something I didn't believe to be truth."

Despite more than a billion dollars in debt, Mountain States Health Alliance gets high marks from bond agencies.  But the company's future will be challenging because of federal funding cuts that will mean the loss of $300,000,000 over 10 years.

As for how MSHA will manage the necessary funding cuts, Levine said his team will respond as needs warrant.  "At the end of the day, every decision we make the first and last question has to be how does this impact the people we're supposed to serve."

Click on the video player to see the entire report on the Friday, November 15th 6 p.m. newscast.

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