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TriStar reveals exclusive expansion plans

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Tristar Summit CEO Jeff Whitehorn is pumped with the hospital's plans for expansion and growth. He sits in his office to reveal future plans and can't keep from hiding the super "S" letter he reserved when they changed their name to TriStar. He keeps the big letter in his office as a souvenir, while also embracing the TriStar moniker. LAURIE EVERETT / The Wilson Post
TriStar Summit CEO Jeff Whitehorn speaks with Dr. Daymond McDuffey, Inpatient Rehab Medical Director, in their newly updated rehab floor. It was updated two years ago and they plan to add eight more rooms in 2016. There are rooms custom-made like a "real" home, to help patients adapt and prepare for life after the hospital. LAURIE EVERETT / The Wilson Post

With plans for a satellite emergency room in Mt. Juliet at the Beckwith Road interchange, in line for a Certificate of Need hearing planned for Nov. 18, TriStar Summit CEO Jeff Whitehorn, in an exclusive interview, revealed even more plans the growing hospital has planned.

"Firstly, we are very excited about the opportunity of our proposal for a satellite emergency room (an $11 million investment) in Mt. Juliet," Whitehorn said. "As Mt. Juliet has grown, so have we. With this satellite ER, we will be able to provide quicker and faster emergency care for those in and near Mt. Juliet."

They even have a website for people to express their support for the pending ER in Mt. Juliet. There have been nearly 100 "positive" responses about the prospect of an ER near Mt. Juliet. Many, said Marketing Director Julie Plummer, from the Del Webb, 55-plus community.

"They feel the need for a closer ER," Plummer said.

TriStar Summit already has many prongs in the Mt. Juliet arena. There's the massive TriStar Summit Medical Plaza in south Mt. Juliet, and in 2008, they opened a diagnostic center there.

Tristar Summit, on the edge near Mt. Juliet, already has a bed count of 200, according to Plummer.

"We have over 900 employees and 500 physicians," she explained. "What I'm really proud of, though, is our culture. People just feel comfortable here, and we all work together wonderfully. The physicians support the staff, and vice-versa. It's a good collaboration, and our focus is patient care. I realize the term 'family' is overused, but truly, we are here."

Whitehorn said the growth the last four years at the hospital has been "huge."

There's a three-year phase-in plan of expansion and the first phase will begin in January.

"It's a $4.5 million expansion," Whitehorn said.

It will include a re-vamp of the women's center at the hospital, and there are plans to expand the inpatient rehabilitation rooms on the third floor from 12 beds to 20 in 2016. Two years ago they added eight beds to the seventh floor. In the end it will be a three-phase re-investment that totals $12 million.

"We have a community that seeks care and it's our duty and obligation to give back," Whitehorn said. "We owe it to people to give great care, in a setting that is conducive to healing."

Another revelation in expansion is a $4 million plan for an "Ortho-spine center," in the pipeline, set to emerge Jan. 2017. Whitehorn said there will be neuro and orthopedic surgeons on board, with new rehab beds planned for March 2016 and an orthocenter planned a bit later.

"Ortho surgery is our number one procedure," Whitehorn said. "We've grown so much in this area. We plan to move it to the first floor. It's easy accessibility. It's going to be spectacular."
To date, TriStar Summit sees 112,620 patients a year, which encompasses in and out care, plus diagnostics.

Because the hospital now has deep roots here, patients come back to say thank you. Whitehorn said recently an 11-year-old came back to say he's thankful he was treated in the hospital's neonatal unit.

"I just love the fact we have the downtown technology right here in our own community," Plummer said. "We are state-of-the-art, in our own backyard."

And while the hospital continues to revamp and add more services, the most "telling" revelation is there are many talks of, what else, going vertical.

"The next step could be an eighth and ninth floor," Whitehorn said with a smile.

And, just for the record, a recent Nashville Scene designation awarded TriStar Summit Hospital in a top-two-slot, just behind Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Writer Laurie Everett may be contacted at

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#WCBusiness, #wcdevelopment, business, emergency, healthcare, Jeff Whitehorn, medical, Mt. Juliet, TriStar Summit
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