Summit Medical Group breaks ground in Jefferson City

Members of local government, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce and medical staff break ground on Summit Medical Group’s new primary care center in Jefferson City on Tuesday. The new facility, which will be located on Andrew Johnson Highway, is expected to be completed by June of next year.

With a few golden shovels, a new era began for Summit Medical Center on Tuesday.

Politicians, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce members, medical center personnel and dignitaries from Summit Medical Group attended the groundbreaking for a new medical center on Andrew Johnson Highway in Jefferson City, and Jefferson City mayor Mitch Cain had nothing but superlatives for the project.

“This is a proud day for Jefferson City and our region,” he said. “Quality healthcare is important to our community, and we’ve been blessed to have Summit Medical for the last 25 years. They’re committed to our region, and Jefferson City couldn’t be happier to be a part of this.”

Dr. Clyde Worley, chairman of the board of directors at Summit Medical said the 31,000 square-foot facility with ample parking throughout the center should be completed around June of next year, and added the region can only benefit from the new complex.

“We’re excited to be able to deliver healthcare to the community,” he said. “(The new facility) will give us more space and provide more care.”

Formed in 1995 by 35 Knoxville physicians who had been serving internal medicine and family practice for up to 40 years, Summit Medical, East Tennessee’s largest primary care provider, serves the greater Knoxville area and 13 other counties going as far south as Chattanooga. Of its 61 sites in East Tennessee, most of them owned by the physicians.

Summit also consists of four diagnostic centers, mobile diagnostic services, eight physical therapy centers, three express clinics, central laboratory and sleep services center. It provides healthcare services to more than 260,000 patients, averaging over one million encounters annually.

Chief Executive Officer Ed Curtis said the project gives doctors the opportunity to take physical ownership of their facilities.

“We’re in the healthcare business, not the real estate business. I’m leasing from them, not the other way around,” he said. “That’s a great investment right there.”

Locating the property to erect the medical center was a longer process than initially conceived.

“We probably looked at 30 different sites from Dandridge to (Interstate 81) to Morristown to find the right property,” said Michael Honeycutt, senior vice president of Realty Trust Group in Knoxville.

“We’ve been looking for about two years, but we’ve been actively looking for the last year,” Worley said. “We’ve had a great lease (at our current location), but we’re in the sixth year of a seven year lease.”

Jefferson County Mayor Mark Potts said the location is the perfect place to start Summit Medical’s next chapter in the community.

“This property became available a few years ago, and I always wondered what it would become,” he said. “Today, we know what’s going to happen to this property, and I’m happy to have Summit Medical here.”

The near future holds multiple changes for not only Summit Medical, but the entire healthcare system, and leading the changes is something all medical companies need to be involved in.

“We see the future of healthcare in primary care,” Worley said. “We want to get a strong foothold in Jefferson City to provide that primary care.”