From Staff Reports
Ballad Health has named Loveland Hobson as assistant vice president and administrator of Unicoi County Hospital, bringing years of clinical, leadership and communication skills to one of the country’s newest rural hospitals.
Ballad made the announcement today on its website.
Hobson will lead the hospital’s operations, services and patient experience as Ballad Health works to expand healthcare opportunities in Unicoi County. She succeeds Eric Carroll, who was recently tapped as chief executive officer for Greeneville Community Hospital.
“I look forward to helping Unicoi County Hospital further cement its identity, both as a healthcare provider and as a bedrock of the community,” said Hobson, who begins her new role on Monday, May 24. “I’m excited about our room to grow and establish more services and stronger experiences for our patients.
“It’s extremely gratifying and humbling that Ballad Health’s leadership and the Unicoi County Hospital board of directors have chosen to place their trust in me, and I’m very eager to get started.”
Hobson most recently served as associate administrator at Johnson City Medical Center, where she oversaw and managed more than 13,000 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations at the facility’s vaccine center, in addition to ongoing administrative work. She was promoted into that role in 2019, following four years as the health system’s director of procurement and contracting.
“Love has demonstrated that she is more than ready to take on the challenges that come with being at the helm of one of our hospitals,” said Stan Hickson, president of Ballad Health’s Southern Market, which includes Johnson City Medical Center and Unicoi County Hospital. “I’m very excited to see what she will offer the residents of Unicoi County with her leadership and perseverance.”
In her new role, Hobson will work to extend the Ballad Health Strong Starts program into Unicoi County to bolster maternity care and early childhood development care in the region as part of the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network. She’ll also expand her focus into addressing poverty and teen pregnancy in the region, as well as developing an established department for patient experience at Unicoi County Hospital.
“It takes a truly well-rounded professional to lead a hospital, and we’ve found that person in Love,” said Dr. Michael Sutherland, emergency room medical director for Unicoi County Hospital. “Love brings an excellent skillset to our hospital, and her compassion and care for patients is at the heart of who she is. I think she’s the perfect fit for the job.”
Unicoi County Hospital opened its doors in 2018, an anomaly in the face of a decade-long trend of rural hospital closures across the nation.
“When you’re looking for someone to lead a rural hospital like Unicoi County Hospital, you’ve not only got to find someone with the experience to lead a hospital, but the drive to meet the challenges facing rural hospitals in America today,” said Ken Kissell, a member of the Unicoi County Hospital board of directors. “Love’s work throughout her 20-plus years in the medical field shows she’s an innovative leader. That’s something we need to see in our rural hospitals.”
Born in Harlan, Kentucky, Hobson’s new role at Unicoi County Hospital is a chance to get back to her small-town roots.
“The best way I can help the community is by being a part of it,” Hobson said. “I came to the Appalachian Highlands in 1995, and I’ve found my home in serving the people of this region. Rural counties like Unicoi County have unique challenges that I’m ready to take on.”
Hobson began her medical career at Holston Valley Medical Center as a respiratory therapist in 1998 after completing her degree at Walters State Community College in Morristown. In the 23 years that followed, Hobson’s clinical experience, combined with strong leadership skills, earned her roles of increasing responsibility, eventually making the shift from clinical management to administrative management in 2012.