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New CEO sees promise in Farragut hospital

Turkey Creek Medical Center’s new CEO said his experience so far in Knoxville has been a bit akin to the tale of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

“It’s not too big that it’s overpowering and it’s small enough that you can be involved as much as you want to be involved in the community,” said Lance Jones, who was named CEO of Turkey Creek Medical Center after Health Management Associate’s purchase of the Mercy Health Partners system, renaming it Tennova.

“Overall, it’s a nice place,” he added.

Jones, a physical therapist, came to the United States 16 years ago from New Zealand. Jones moved around the country over the years, pursuing a Master’s degree in hospital administration.

He joined HMA three years ago and came to Knoxville with the due diligence team looking into the Mercy purchase. He said Knoxville has been welcoming so far, and he appreciates its similarity to New Zealand.

“It’s been really exciting to come to a place that, geographically, is similar to so many parts of my country,” he said.

A triathlon competitor, Jones also appreciates Knoxville and Farragut’s bicycle-friendliness. Jones and his wife, Mindy, have three children at A.L. Lotts, West High School and Pellissippi State Community College.

Jones said HMA saw opportunity and promise in Farragut’s hospital, just off Parkside Drive, but understands there could be community opinions and perceptions to overcome.

To help with that issue, Jones wants to ensure Turkey Creek Medical Center is understood better across the community.

“We have not done a good job identifying what this hospital does and what’s available. A lot of people still think it’s a women’s hospital,” Jones said.

“We want to continue to work on relationships in the community and really getting the message out to let folks know that we have a pulse, so to speak,” he added.

In addition, Jones said Turkey Creek Medical Center will expand and develop the cardiology, oncology, emergency room and women’s health departments — and, in a more general sense, greater use of technology, specifically robotics.

“We want to be proud of the work that has been done here,” he said.

“Strong connection back to the patient is a key focus of our core delivery,” he added.

Future development also will include branding the system as a whole, rather than pieces of former Mercy and Baptist systems. All hospitals now carry the Tennova name, rather than references to St. Mary’s, Baptist or Mercy.

“That just honestly created some confusion in the market. That system opportunity we’re certainly excited about,” Jones said.

Jones said he’s also aware of the insecurity that accompanied the purchase of the Mercy system, and the fear it could inspire among hospital employees, physicians and patients.

“We’ve come here, and as a company we see tremendous value in the system as a whole. There are absolutely no plans whatsoever other than growing and developing the services here with our physicians,” he said.


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