Chris Jett named CEO of Ballad Health Niswonger Children's Network
As Ballad Health continues expanding access to high-quality children’s health services throughout the Appalachian Highlands, a seasoned hospital administrator has been tapped to lead the endeavor.
Christopher Jett, an experienced healthcare executive with more than 14 years of experience, has been named chief executive officer of the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network, replacing Lisa Carter, who assumed the role of Ballad Health’s Southern Region president last December.
Launched in 2021, the Niswonger Children’s Network is a regional system of pediatric care designed to benefit every child in the Appalachian Highlands. The network, which includes the region’s only children’s hospital, Niswonger Children’s Hospital, serves 21 counties across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, six counties in Western North Carolina and two counties in Southeastern Kentucky.
“When we began the search for the next CEO for the Niswonger Children’s Network, we knew we wanted to find someone who would help us grow and develop the network across the Appalachian Highlands, and Chris has every qualification we were searching for,” said Lisa Carter, president of Ballad Health’s Southern Region and former CEO of the Niswonger Children’s Network.
“We were so impressed with his previous achievements, and we know his knowledge and expertise will help us reach our goals to provide quality healthcare to every child and family in the Appalachian Highlands.”
Jett comes to Ballad Health from USA Health Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, Alabama, where he has spent the past 13 years of his career. For the past six years, he served as hospital administrator at the facility, heading several projects during his tenure, including the creation of an OB/GYN Evaluation Center and Women’s Complex Care Unit. He also oversaw the construction of a pediatric emergency department and postpartum unit, while consistently recruiting physicians and optimizing operations across the facility.
“I am proud of the work I’ve done and the teams I worked with in Alabama, and I‘m honored to now work in the Appalachian Highlands,” Jett said. “What the Niswonger Children’s Network is doing aligns with my personal values of ensuring access to quality healthcare for every child, and I believe every new project is like a seed that will grow and benefit our region for decades to come. The future is definitely bright for our children – which means it’s brighter for us all."
In his new role, Jett will oversee the vertical expansion of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, which will create a new, two-floor vertical expansion, stacked atop the existing hospital. The additional floors will house another element of the J.D. Nicewonder Family Perinatal and Pediatric Institute: a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit.
With that renovation, Niswonger Children’s Hospital will host the newest NICU in both Tennessee and Virginia. With a family-friendly approach, the new NICU will offer private spaces for parents and siblings and give parents the ability to stay continuously with their babies.
Construction and expansion of Niswonger Children’s Hospital is largely funded by the Hope Rising philanthropy campaign, which is raising $30 million, anchored by a pace-setting gift of $7 million from the J.D. Nicewonder family. The Nicewonder family, from Bristol, Virginia, has provided the second-largest single investment into the children’s hospital since its inception in 2009.
“The medical staff and physician leaders in pediatrics, obstetrics and at Johnson City Medical Center were very involved in the hiring process, and we are confident Chris’ leadership ability is a step in the right direction for our children’s network,” said Seth Brown, MD, chief medical officer of the Niswonger Children’s Network. “We collaborated with our administrative team and carefully considered his experience and vision, and we are excited to see how he leads and helps us bolster pediatric services in the region.”
Jett will also spearhead other ongoing Niswonger Children’s Network projects, including the conversion of Indian Path Community Hospital to a Center for Women and Babies, complete with a pediatric emergency department slated for opening in fall 2022, and a hub for women’s services, including obstetric care, breast services and cervical services.
Learn more about the children's network and Niswonger Children's Hospital.