Editor’s Note: Last week, we began honoring our local members of the 28th annual 40 Under Forty class, who were selected by our sister publication, The Business Journal of the Tri-Cities. A full list of the honorees can be found in the December edition of the Business Journal.
Every year since 1993, the Business Journal has held an event to honor the rising stars of the region’s business community. More than 200 celebrants have come together every year to be inspired by the incoming class of honorees and to meet the leaders who in coming years will be showing the region how to accomplish things we’d never dreamed of before.
Because of COVID-19, holding the gala this year was impossible. Holding the gala in a virtual environment was untenable. But, writing off the entire 40 Under Forty program for the year would have been unforgivable. At a time when innovation is mandatory, when vision is necessary and when hope and inspiration are precious, this program became more important than ever.
KJ Gulson has helped change the landscape of health care in the region. Since 2012, she has served as assistant vice president of Operations of Ballad Health Physician Services. Prior to that, she served Mountain States Medical Group as both practice director (2006-2010) and practice administrator (2010-2012). She currently leads all primary care, pediatric, endocrinology, urgent care and occupational health clinic sites. Additionally, she has expertise in the areas of quality, value-based contract negotiation and implementation, EMR implementation, and LEAN process integration and project management. Gulson supports Young Life, for which she served as a volunteer leader for several years. She co-owns a small business, Camp Ruff-n-More. In 2018, she was recognized as a Healthcare Hero for her leadership of a project aimed at reducing opioid prescribing in Ballad Health’s primary care practices.
Scott Hammerbacher, senior vice president for compliance and loan operations for Citizens Bank, is that rare individual who started years ago with one financial institution and has remained with that institution for his entire career. A Church Hill, Tenn., native, Hammerbacher interned with Citizens during his final semester at East Tennessee State University before being hired on in the compliance department. He took over the role of compliance officer in 2013, and in 2018 he was promoted to oversee not just compliance, but also the Bank Secrecy Act department (which watches over cash transactions to police against money laundering) and over the credit loan operations department. In 2020, those responsibilities ballooned as Hammerbacher oversaw forgiveness requests for PPP loans. His career ambition, Hammerbacher said, “is to help the bank grow, as it has for years.”
Dr. Rachel Hymes
Dr. Rachel Dasher Hymes practices dentistry with her heart on her sleeve. From 2010-2016, she served as the Tennessee Rural Health Services Consortium dentist in Mountain City. In 2016, she relocated to Johnson City to become the dental director of the Johnson City Community Health Center. The Center originally served the needs of the homeless population but expanded its services to include uninsured, under-insured, and TennCare enrollees. While the Dental Clinic is temporarily closed because of the COVID crisis, Dr. Hymes continues to treat patients at the Friends in Need clinic in Kingsport as well as seeing private practice patients at Cunningham Dental and SmilesDentist. She served as president of First District Dental Society where she led the committee that created, funded and implemented a Children’s Dental Exhibit at the Hands On! Discovery Center.
Dr. Rachel Hymes was identified as dental director at the Johnson City Community Health Center. The article also stated that the dental clinic was temporarily closed. The dental clinic has re-opened with Dr. Nicole Mancini as dental director.
Dr. Brooklyn Nelson
Dr. Nelson is a cofunded ETSU faculty member, also serving as a clinical pharmacist for Ballad Health. In just five years, she has distinguished herself as a leader and mentor among her peers and colleagues. In the Tennessee State Pharmacy Association, Dr. Nelson serves as the chair of the Collaborative Practice Committee. She has been the recipient of several national, regional, and local awards, including the ASHP National Innovative Practice Spotlight, Tennessee Pharmacists Association Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award, and ETSU Gatton College of Pharmacy APPE Preceptor of the Year. She is also locally involved in service to the community, including serving on the Washington County Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Council, Tennessee Achieves High School Mentor Program for Washington County, and ETSU Hispanic Health Fair Faculty Supervisor.
Master Martial Arts Instructor Keith Olson did not let the COVID crisis stop his business, even though it involves close contact with multiple individuals from ages 5-88. Instead, he created a Zoom-based teaching system in which he conducted classes virtually, taking the time to offer real one-to-one instruction and specific feedback to each student. In addition to continuing to teach students, Olson created an online support group during the quarantine period for students and their families with the goal of maintaining not only physical health, but also mental and social acuity. Said one nominator, “Keith goes beyond the day-to-day demands to create an environment that engages students, inspires leadership, and encourages positive community relationships. The outcomes those students experience is the fruit of his leadership, which spread as quietly as his leadership.”
Dr. Mihir Patel
Dr. Patel is a physician champion for numerous initiatives at Ballad Health that are at the forefront of care right now – including telehealth, the rollout of Epic as Ballad’s electronic health record system, and the COVID-19 inpatient unit for Ballad Health. Patel serves as Ballad Health’s medical director of virtual medicine, medical director for the system’s COVID-19 strike team, and medical director of innovation and quality for Ballad Health’s hospitalist group. He is known as an innovative leader, a pioneer for telehealth and is also a very compassionate caregiver serving on the front lines fighting COVID-19. He is president, Blue Ridge Chapter, of the Society of Hospital Medicine and holds or has held numerous leadership positions for organizations and committees both within Ballad Health and in other capacities.
Check back next week for more profiles on our local 40 Under Forty honorees.