Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

New admin begins tenure

There hasn’t been a dull moment for new Unicoi County Memorial Hospital (UCMH) Administrator Eric Carroll.
Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) announced in August that Carroll had been chosen as the new administrator for the local hospital. Chase Wilson, who served as the chief financial officer for the Southwest Market of MSHA served in the interim following the resignation of previous administrator Tracy Byers earlier this year.
Carroll, who served as the CEO of Select Specialty Hospital in Bristol since 2013, said he was familiar with MSHA during an interview with The Erwin Record last week.
“I worked for Mountain States for about five years back in the early 2000s,” Carroll said on Wednesday, Sept. 16. “I had a great experience with Mountain States before; the only reason I left the company before was to pursue other opportunities.”
Once the job in Unicoi County opened up, it was a no-brainer to apply, Carroll added.
“I jumped at it for a couple of different reasons,” he said. “Being part of Mountain States was something I wanted to do again. But this particular opportunity was very appealing to me as well. Unicoi County reminds me a lot of where I grew up. I am what you would consider a local boy from Southwest Virginia, over in Lee County. They’re similar communities in that they are both tight knit, people are very well connected and know each other and about each other. I love that type of community because everyone feels like they have a vested interest in the success of the hospital. Being part of that was something I really wanted to do.”
The change in leadership at UCMH will not affect the planned construction of the new hospital in the county, MHSA reported when announcing Carroll’s hiring. The construction of the new hospital, on property off the Temple Hill Road, is expected to begin in fall 2016 with a completion date tentatively set for spring 2018.
Last week marked Carroll’s first days inside the current hospital. The first item on the agenda is to get to know the people of the county, Carroll added.
“It hasn’t been that big of an adjustment, say if I moved from Michigan to here to take this job,” he said. “The first thing, right out of the gate, is to get to know everybody. Knowing everybody’s name when I’m walking down the hallway, whether I see a nurse, a radiology tech or a housekeeper, I want to know the names of everyone I work with. And not just here at the hospital. If I run into you at the Walmart a few exits down, I want people to recognize me and I want to recognize them. That’s the biggest challenge right out of the gate … just getting to know the people. It will take some time to do, with it being just day three, I’m not there yet.”
And the discussions of the new hospital are happening daily, Carroll added.
“Everything is always moving ahead,” he said. “Meetings on the new hospital happen all the time. I’m still getting fully up to speed on where we were and where we are going. That’s still a work in progress for me, personally, and being part of the visioning committee of the hospital to be ready once we break ground and get things moving.”
Carroll also has familiarity with Wilson and added he still speaks with him to this day about different activities at the hospital.
“Chase is going to be key for me, not just now, but for months and years down the line,” Carroll said. “Even with him stepping out of this role, he’s still an integral part of this hospital being the market CFO. He did a great job in the interim keeping things moving and not just letting things come to a halt while they got a new administrator in here. Chase and I have daily conversations on the phone, by text, by email … I’ll continue to rely on Chase for a while and it makes the transition a lot easier for me.”
While the day-to-day activities will keep Carroll busy, he added that he’s looking forward to staying active in the community, even adding he was going to participate in the Nolichucky Triple Threat that was held on Saturday, Sept. 19.
“If you look outside the role of CEO, suit and tie everyday, I’m somebody that loves to be involved in community events,” he said. “I’m going to be at both days of the Apple Festival and I encourage everyone to stop by and come see me there. I’ll be manning the tent, giving things away and having conversations with anyone that wants to stop by and talk. My wife and I love the outdoors and sports.”
Carroll also said being a part of the community is a priority.
“In the near future, I want to get involved as much as I can with the local schools. Right now, believe it or not, I’m an assistant football coach on Friday nights. My brother (Joey Carroll) is the head football coach at Marion High School and I go up and help with play-calling. It made it a lot easier when I worked in Bristol because I could just shoot right up the interstate, but I’m going to fulfill my commitment there. I plan on making it to some Unicoi County football games during our bye week or a week that I won’t be able to make it up there.”
Carroll also said he is part of the Unicoi County Tomorrow Leadership Class, and said it is a great way to meet with other local leaders and kick start the process.
“I have a wife and two kids,” he added. “They’ll be a big part of the community, too. I’m sure we’ll do stuff with the Y and other local groups. We actually went around, driving all weekend looking for houses. I want people to know me not only as the guy that works at the hospital, but the guy who is manning the concession stands one night or dragging himself across obstacles in races.
“My goal, overall, is to give us something that we as a community can be proud of,” Carroll continued. “We want to know that when things need to be done, when health issues come up in our lives, that we are confident in the hospital in our community and that we don’t have to use other hospitals. That’s where I want my family to be.”
Carroll is a graduate of East Tennessee State University. According to the press release issued to The Erwin Record, he began his career at the Johnson City Medical Center in 2000 as a CT technologist. Following that endeavor, he moved to Naples, Fla., in 2006 to work as a CT supervisor and also completed a masters of health services administration from Florida Gulf Coast University and was named the administrator for the Physicians Regional Healthcare Systems in Naples.
Carroll made the transition back to the Tri-Cities as the COO of Select Specialty Hospital in Bristol during 2012 and was later named CEO in 2013.