Covenant Health, the major health system headquartered in Knoxville and the regionâ€™s largest employer, has announced plans for a leadership transition. Effective April 1, 2016, Anthony L. “Tony” Spezia, Covenantâ€™s long-time president and chief executive officer, will become CEO emeritus and Jim VanderSteeg, executive vice-president of operations, will assume the role of president and CEO of the health system.
â€œThis announcement is a culmination of several years of succession planning by Covenantâ€™s board and our CEO,â€ said Larry Mauldin, chairman of Covenant Healthâ€™s board of directors. â€œTony Spezia has been Covenantâ€™s CEO for over 15 years and has led a remarkable business turnaround which has made Covenant Health one of the leading health systems in the country.
â€œThe Covenant board wants to assure that the organization continues the successful strategies and commitment to quality that has led to the health systemâ€™s success,â€ he said. â€œJim VanderSteeg has worked closely with Tony for the past eight years and has demonstrated that he is well qualified to lead Covenant Health.â€
Spezia joined Covenant Health, which includes Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, in 1996 after holding leadership positions in several industries. He was named president and CEO in 2000. In addition to his role at Covenant, he has been involved extensively in healthcare policy development and has served in a number of state and national leadership roles, including serving as chairman of the American Hospital Associationâ€™s Health Systems Governing Council.
During Speziaâ€™s tenure as CEO, Covenant Health has expanded significantly in Tennessee, acquiring hospitals from Crossville to Morristown. The health system has invested more than $1.2 billion in facilities and technology, including building new community hospitals in Loudon, Roane, and Sevier counties, while growing its cash and investments by more than $700 million.Â Covenant also has received ongoing national recognition for its quality, service, and compliance programs.
â€œTonyâ€™s leadership has significantly influenced the success of Covenant Health,” Mauldin said. “Even more importantly, he has a passion for excellence in serving patients, and an unwavering dedication to Covenantâ€™s mission of improving the quality of life in our communities through better health. We are most gratified that Tony has agreed to stay with the organization in the role of CEO emeritus, assisting Jim and the leadership team and representing the organization in areas of public policy.â€
â€œI look forward to continuing to serve Covenant Health and its leadership team in strategic development, public policy and other corporate initiatives,â€ Spezia said. â€œThroughout my years as Covenant Healthâ€™s president, Iâ€˜ve been privileged to be part of a great organization with a highly qualified leadership team. Jim VanderSteeg has contributed significantly to our success, and I wholeheartedly support the boardâ€™s decision to select him as Covenantâ€™s next CEO. I believe that Jim, along with John Geppi, executive vice president and CFO, and the other members of Covenantâ€™s leadership team will continue the organizationâ€™s growth, performance, and commitment to quality.â€
VanderSteeg joined Covenant Health in 2007 after nearly 20 years in administrative and executive leadership roles at Baptist Memorial Healthcare Corporation, a healthcare delivery system with 13 hospitals in Tennessee and Mississippi. From 2004-06, he served as administrator and CEO of Baptist Memorial Hospital Memphis, the companyâ€™s flagship hospital.
â€œThe opportunity to join Covenant Health eight years ago appealed to me because of the health systemâ€™s not-for-profit mission of serving the community, its pursuit of the highest standards of quality, the strength of Covenantâ€™s leaders, and the dedication of its employees and physicians,â€ VanderSteeg said. â€œIâ€™m honored to have worked alongside Tony Spezia as part of Covenantâ€™s executive leadership team. He has been an inspiring chief executive and a mentor who has expanded my responsibilities and opportunities for professional growth. Iâ€™m looking forward to working with our board of directors and all of the employees, physicians and volunteers at Covenant Health to continue our commitment to excellence.â€
Covenant Health is a community-ownedÂ health systemÂ providing comprehensive health servicesÂ in Tennessee. Headquartered in Knoxville, Covenant Health has more than $2 billion in assets and includes nine acute-care hospitals and numerous outpatient services and clinics.Â The health system also includes specialty providers of behavioral, oncology, and rehabilitation services, along with home care, physician clinics, and community wellness and outreach programs.Â Covenant Health has 10,000 employees and nearly 1,500 affiliated physicians systemwide, and is recognized regionally and nationally for quality and patient satisfaction.
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