Johnson City Site of First Green Hospital in Tennessee

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — Tennessee’s first green hospital aims to heal patients and the environment at the same time.  Every aspect of the new Franklin Woods Community Hospital, located in 135-acre Med Tech Park in Johnson City, Tenn., was built with people and the natural world in mind.

Cork floors, wooden beams, and panoramic views of the nearby Smokey Mountains create a peaceful atmosphere inside.  Exterior design features such as an extensive underground system that funnels runoff water into retention ponds reduce the environmental impact.

“Natural light, environmentally-sensitive design and a home-like atmosphere help healing,” said Dennis Vonderfecht, president and CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA), the healthcare network which built the facility.

Vonderfecht says that the environmental and aesthetic design “costs a bit more, but the energy efficiency and sustainability should, in the long run, actually save money.”

He is putting that vision into action.

Franklin Woods, which already has earned the points necessary for silver-level LEED certification, is just one of three environmentally-friendly hospitals now planned by MSHA,  which operates 13 hospitals and numerous clinics throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, and which also serves patients in Southeast Kentucky and Western North Carolina.  MSHA is constructing the 130-bed Johnston Memorial Hospital in nearby Abingdon, Va.  That project is scheduled for completion by July of 2011. MSHA recently broke ground on Smyth County Community Hospital, a 45-bed facility in Marion, Va.

Healthcare professionals like Vonderfecht aren’t the only ones who welcome new, cutting-edge hospitals.

Economic development officials also view construction of progressive healthcare facilities like Franklin Woods as important business recruiting and job retention tools.

The green hospitals coming online soon “boost the whole region,” said Tom Ferguson, president and CEO of the Regional Alliance for Economic Development, which serves eight counties in Northeast Tennessee and two Southwest Virginia counties.

“With the first green hospital in the state, a promising alternative energy sector in our region, and East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy, we are well positioned for the future,” Ferguson said.

For more information about the Regional Alliance and how it works with local and state economic development offices and the private sector, contact Tom Ferguson at (423) 323-8107 or at


Posted July 27, 2010

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