CEO hire is a capstone moment for Mountain Health Network

March 22, 2019 GMT

HUNTINGTON - The introduction of Michael Mullins, the newly hired president and CEO of Mountain Health Network, seemed like the final nail being hammered in building the health system hundreds in the community had sweat over for years.

The soft-spoken and jovial Mullins has been in his capacity with the less-than-year-old system for just 17 days, but his assessment from the Huntington medical community has been glowing.

And a reception in his honor Thursday evening in Huntington seemed like the tying of the ribbon on the metaphorical marriage of Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center. Cabell Huntington’s acquisition of St. Mary’s was completed last year.

“It feels like the high expectations the board had set for creating a health system and knocking down all the barriers has reached that in naming this excellent CEO; we’ll continue to move forward,” said Dr. Kevin Yingling, chairman of the Mountain Health and Cabell Huntington Hospital boards of trustees.

Mullins, who has more than 30 years’ experience in hospital leadership, arrives from Missouri-based Ascension Healthcare, the nation’s largest nonprofit health system and the world’s largest Catholic health system, where he served as senior vice president. He also had worked as CEO/ministry market executive for Via Christi, the largest health care provider in Kansas; and St. John’s Health in Oklahoma.

Mullins has worked in leadership, operations support and strategic business arrangements for hospitals across the country in his career, including work in Colorado, Tennessee, Indiana and North Dakota.

He is also a retired captain of the U.S. Naval Reserve’s Medical Service Corps, where his 32 years of duty included service during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His last Navy assignment was a tour as commanding officer of a Commissioned Reserve Medical Unit.

Mullins is the first president and CEO of Mountain Health, which officially formed in May 2018 with the acquisition of St. Mary’s by Cabell Huntington. The Huntington-based system reaches a service area of more than 1 million residents in 23 counties in West Virginia, southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky.

But the process started long before Mullins arrived in Huntington for those first interviews, the system being the project of countless hours of work by lawyers, financiers, elected officials and even the state government. It’s rare teamwork not often seen in a community toward a common goal, Mullins noted, which the system will continue moving forward as it tackles the region’s well-documented and pressing health issues.

“Our job is to provide the leadership in some of the areas that need addressed,” Mullins said, adding that the system’s working structure is still coming together.

“We’re in the middle of a community needs assessment that will home in on some of those other areas where we need to participate, and we’re going to put teams together to help bring some solutions to this area.”

Mullins received his master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University in San Antonio and his bachelor’s in political science from the University of Texas-El Paso. He is also a fellow at the American College of Healthcare Executives.