The History of Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital
Founded in 1929 by Dr. E.B. Clark, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital has a rich history of serving the community of Sparta and surrounding region. The hospital was originally known as White County Community Hospital and located in a family home which was purchased by the County Commission. Then in 1958, the County Commission used a Hill-Burton Grant to build a larger more modern hospital on Gracey Street.
The hospital was purchased and operated by HCA from 1972 to 1986. In 1978, HCA built a new facility at the hospital’s current location at 401 Sewell Road in Sparta. Ownership changed in 1986 (National Healthcare Company) then again in 1994 (Community Health Systems).
In February of 2008, a new era began when Capella Healthcare purchased White County Community Hospital. Shortly thereafter, an innovative partnership with physicians was launched that to this day is credited with the hospital’s success.
The new physician partnership was a win/win for everyone – the community, patients and caregivers. As part-owners of White County Community Hospital, physicians took a more active role in charting the hospital’s strategic direction, sharing their expertise and experience to improve clinical care, patient experiences, and hospital operations. It was a natural partnership that united resources and talents, creating a new unity and sense of teamwork that encouraged the entire White County Community Hospital family. For the people of Sparta, White County and the surrounding region, this partnership was a strong foundation for building an even better hospital, one that enabled the community to look to the future with greater confidence.
On May 1, 2012, the hospital entered into a landmark partnership with Saint Thomas Health, along with its three sister hospitals in the Upper Cumberland Plateau. The new collaboration resulted in the joint ownership and operation of Capella’s four Middle Tennessee hospitals which, in addition to Highlands Medical Center, included: River Park Hospital in McMinnville, DeKalb Community Hospital in Smithville, and Stones River Hospital in Woodbury. These hospitals operated as part of the Saint Thomas Health Network, which held an equity interest. Capella was the managing member and majority partner in the venture as well as the exclusive development partner for Saint Thomas Health across a 60-county area of middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky. The hospital also unveiled its new name, changing from White County Community Hospital to Highlands Medical Center:
On August 1, 2015, Ascension, parent organization of Saint Thomas Health, acquired the four Middle Tennessee hospitals previously jointly owned by Capella Healthcare and Saint Thomas Health. The hospitals became a part of the Ascension Tennessee ministry, Saint Thomas Health, and Highlands Medical Center became known as Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital.
“Saint Thomas Health is passionately committed to improving the health of Middle Tennessee’s communities by providing holistic, faith-based care to individuals,” said Karen Springer, Saint Thomas Health President and CEO, Senior Vice President, Ascension Health/Tennessee Ministry Market Executive. “To achieve this, we have focused on building and expanding a connected system of care across our region. Because of our existing partnership with Capella and our historic service to these communities, gaining full ownership of these important community providers of healthcare will allow us to better serve our patients close to where they live and work.”
During the multi-year partnership, Capella-Saint Thomas Health had expanded the services in each community, enhancing cardiac, stroke and telemedicine services.
“Since our partnership with Saint Thomas Health in 2012, we’ve further enhanced services in the Upper Cumberland region, with our four hospitals becoming part of the Saint Thomas Stroke Network, adding new telemedicine capabilities, and broadening access to physicians,” said Michael A. Wiechart, president and chief executive officer of Capella Healthcare. “To take care to the next level, we have been exploring with Saint Thomas how our partnership could best evolve to achieve our shared goals. With Saint Thomas’ national recognition for quality and their recent partnership with UT’s primary care residency program, we know that this evolution in our relationship comes at the best possible time.
Now a 60-bed facility, Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission, a national healthcare accreditation agency, and is part of the Saint Thomas Stroke Network. The hospital provides a full range of medical services, including 24-hour Emergency Care, Intensive Care, Medical/Surgical Care, General Surgery, Orthopedics, Gastroenterology, Pulmonology, Gynecology, and a Behavioral Health Unit. Diagnostic Imaging services include X-ray, CT, Ultrasound and Nuclear Medicine. Rehabilitation services include Physical and Occupational Therapy. Saint Thomas Highlands Hospital remains committed to providing quality, patient-centered care, strong customer service, and wellness activities in the community.