The camaraderie was evident on May 31 throughout the hallways of the extensively renovated facility that is home to Women’s Healthcare of Morristown.
The three individuals who make up the team formed earlier this year through the efforts of Covenant Health – Kim C. Brooks, MD, Billy Black Jr., MD and Stacey Kesterson, WHNP – hosted an open house and ribbon cutting in conjunction with the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a really exciting day for Covenant Health. About 12 to 18 months ago, we found ourselves at a crossroads with regard to women’s healthcare,” Gordon Lintz, president and CAO of Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare, said. “One of the benefits of being a part of a healthcare system, you can rely on the expertise of your brothers and sisters. We got together with the Covenant perinatal group and we talked about a strategy for Morristown. One of the things Dr. Gary Stephens (Fort Sanders Perinatal Center) said was that we really need a female obstetrician/gynecologist. The group agreed to help us develop the perinatal strategy. We have a full service women’s center at the hospital with seven labor and delivery rooms. We are excited about our new partnership with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and our nursery.”
As guests socialized in the front lobby and toured the behind-the-scenes areas that includes 10 exam rooms, lab, procedure and
ultrasound rooms. The positive working relationship that is shared between the three medical professionals was modeled by their staff who greeted each attendee and discussed the services offered.
The building at 1621 Morris Blvd. housed a number of medical practices over several decades and was in serious need of esthetic reconsideration when the new practice was proposed.
“We met Dr. Brooks first,” Lintz said. “As we were showing her around the building, we were saying to her, ‘We need you to keep an open mind and let us share our vision with you!’ We are very blessed that she has joined us to start this new practice. Then it came to the building … The transformation is truly amazing.”
Brooks, who is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, demonstrated her ability to host a party with very little sleep; she delivered a baby at 3 a.m. Thursday.
“I come to Morristown from North Carolina,” she said to the large group gathered in the lobby and waiting area. “I lived and practiced there more than 20 years. I came and took a look – they showed me this space that looked nothing like it does now; but Gordon assured me they were going to turn this into a beautiful space that would be welcoming for staff and patients, and they have done a marvelous job.
“I see this practice as Covenant’s investment in women’s health in the Morristown area. I think it’s an awesome thing. My understanding, from talking to other people and other physicians, the women’s healthcare practices have been strong in the area, but this adds another level to that. I’m excited to be here. We’re getting busy, seeing patients, doing deliveries. We are so happy to be here and so blessed that people are welcoming us.”
Brooks was born and raised in North Carolina; earned her medical doctorate at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Magee-Women’s Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She found her calling in rural healthcare, according to information provided by MHHS, and ventured out on her own in private practice for several years. Brooks, her husband and two children live in the Knoxville area, where her husband is a pastor.
“I’m still trying to get used to all this UT orange,” she confessed to a guest during the ribbon cutting.
Black has served as an OB/GYN practitioner for 17 years, 11 of those in Morristown, and shares Brooks’ brand of humor.
“One thing I do want to point out is that I am not a female,” he said. “It was very gracious that Covenant would allow me to come and join this practice. I’m very happy to be here. This is exactly what I’ve always envisioned as a practice. And I’m just glad to have the opportunity to be here. I’m really glad Covenant partnered up with the perinatal center and made this happen. It’s going to continue to help our women’s health services grow in the future.”
Black graduated the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in biology, then earned his medical doctorate at the Long School of Medicine at the University of Texas in San Antonio before completing his residency at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
“I’m UT orange, through and through,” he said.
Black relocated to Morristown from Corbin, Kentucky. His wife, Melanie, is an ICU nurse at MHHS; the couple share four children: Scott, age 24; Lauren, age 18; Madison, age 12 and Makinley, age, 5 – “Every six years, I have a child,” Black said.
Black is somewhat notorious for his hobbies; at the moment they range from beekeeping, airplane flying lessons, four-wheeling, playing guitar, gardening and flying drones.
“I am a master of none, partaker of many,” Black said. “Although I’m very serious about the flying lessons.”
Black also works as a SWAT medic and reserve police officer.
Kesterson earned a bachelor of science in nursing at Tennessee Technological University and worked as a labor and delivery nurse for several years before earning a Master’s degree in nursing at UT Knoxville. She has served as a women’s health nurse practitioner for more than 15 years, and has developed a large following in Morristown.
And, like Black, she bleeds orange.
“I’m a UT fan, through and through,” she said. “I’ve never lost my loyalty.”
She shares a penchant for hobbies, too, but keeps them to a calm minimum – “I’m a big gardener, and I do a lot of gourmet cooking. But I’m definitely a homebody; I don’t run around like Dr. Black.”
Kesterson and her family have lived in Morristown for 22 years after relocating from Cookeville when her husband took a job at MAHLE.
“We just thought we were passing through,” she said. “But we met so many people, and we just stayed.”
The couple have two daughters: Abigail, age 21, who attends East Tennessee State University and Megan, 19, who attends UT Knoxville.
Kesterson is currently in the throes of the empty nest syndrome. “They are the joy of my life,” she said.
The practice will keep her distracted from any mother’s heartache, however; the three co-workers have seen a large number of loyal and new patients since the doors opened in February. Their shared sense of humor and energy levels invigorate their support staff as well.
“I think this is the future,” Kesterson said. “I’ve been looking for this opportunity, this type of setting. I’m so glad that we got a female physician with Dr. Brooks and that Dr. Black was able to come over. We’ve been very busy from the start. I’m very excited and blessed.”
Kesterson said her mission with patients is to promote overall good health practices.
“This particular area of the country is not as health-conscious as others,” she said. “I want to provide education on nutrition and healthy exercise. I take the time to sit down and talk to my patients; maintaining good health is more than just a yearly exam. It involves emotional health, as well, and learned behaviors.”
The ribbon cutting was emceed by 2018 Morristown Chamber Chair Chris Horn.
“This is a wonderful facility, a really nice improvement and a great location,” Horn said. “Morristown is growing. We continue to be abuzz with activity. And as our community grows, so do the needs of healthcare. I know this expansion will help serve that need in our community and the surrounding areas. Morristown is a hub for industry, business, commerce and certainly healthcare. We are delighted, from the Chamber’s perspective, to be a part of this ribbon cutting.”
To learn more or schedule an appointment visit www.womenshealthcaremorristown.com.
Article courtesy of Citizen Tribune, published Sunday, June 3, 2018.
By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer