Changing of the guard at Frontier Health
Above: Dr. Teresa Kidd and Representative David Hawk
The new and former CEOs of Frontier Health are both making news. Kristie Hammonds, the new CEO, has recently overseen the acquisition of the former Johnson City Specialty Hospital building. Her predecessor, Teresa Kidd, has been honored by the state of Tennessee.
Hammonds started with Frontier Health back in the late 1990s. She worked her way up the company ladder from her first graveyard shift job to being adult case manager before pursuing career options outside the company.
“Working for United Healthcare helped me learn contracting and reimbursement,” Hammonds says. “ISHN and the accountable care organization really helped grow me to create better relationships with the community providers, which I think has really helped us in developing some of those integrated care projects – you know, understanding the differences between a primary care vs a behavioral health or another specialty vs behavioral health – creating some facilitation of linkages between those. And then, just the accountable care organization – learning about shared savings and value-based, risk-based modeling, which we all know is in the future of health care and has started somewhat in this area as well. All of those different experiences and skills that I have learned along the way have helped develop me for this role.”
Hammonds returned to the Frontier Health fold and spent the last four years as senior vice president of Operations before stepping into the CEO seat left vacant by Kidd’s retirement in December 2018.
“From an operations perspective, I think a lot of the things we’re building on, we have initiated over the last couple of years. Some things take time or technology. For instance, growth around being able to streamline services – being able to provide better access to care – initiating more integrated care environments. I think what you are going to see is us expanding on several of the initiatives we have made over the last couple of years that just are in the infant stage and we’re hoping to grow. We’ll be addressing some of the needs that we have and we have seen in the community.
“We’ll be trying to create some efficiencies around technology,” Hammonds continues. “That is something we have really been trying to grow over the last three to four years. It takes time. There are a lot of dollars associated with that, so you can’t just bite off a big chunk at any one time. Telehealth services are extremely important to help provide access to care, for example. So, how can we be more efficient around using technology to help provide the tools we need to help the individuals we serve?”
The recent acquisition of the former Johnson City Specialty Hospital building is another part of the same strategy. “We started looking for a place around four years ago to find a place to create synergies with our specialty services under one roof, as well as being able to expand our capacity to serve. We have a waiting list with our residential and rehab services, so we have been trying to find a way to expand those services.”
Deleting the waiting list makes sense not only from a business perspective, but from a treatment perspective as well, Hammonds says. “If we can get you right when you have that need, and get you into treatment, we’ll hopefully be able to give better care, and get you into recovery quicker than maybe you could have been in otherwise.”
Frontier Health plans to have operations in the building up and running by midsummer.
Hammonds’ predecessor, Dr. Teresa Kidd, was honored with a reception and resolution by the state of Tennessee.
The resolution, presented by Representative David Hawk, commemorated Dr. Kidd’s passion and commitment to those individuals in the east Tennessee area with mental illness. “Dr. Kidd has been a leader and champion in the field of mental health, who has inspired me to become an advocate for our citizens who are dealing mental health issues,” said State Representative David Hawk. “On the occasion of her retirement, the state of Tennessee is honored to recognize Dr. Kidd for sharing her life’s passion of helping others improve their mental and physical health.” Dr. Kidd was awarded a Business Journal Tri-Cities Tennessee and Virginia Health Care Hero in 1998. She was recognized for her role in, “assisting others, displaying qualities of selflessness, compassion, and loyalty” to individuals and communities served in Region 1 and the state.