Hometown Health Team

Jimmy Lewis, CEO

Jimmy has roots in rural South Georgia where he was born in Cordele, Georgia. Having graduated high school in Cordele, he attended Middle Georgia College and then Auburn University. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering from Auburn. Upon college graduation he entered business with Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in Albany Georgia. From that beginning, Jimmy has held senior management positions in six fortune five hundred companies including Firestone Tire and Rubber Company – passenger tires, Fairchild Burns – aircraft seats, Arthur Young and Co – consulting, R.J Reynolds – warehousing, Cross Equipment and Gold Kist – agribusiness, and HCA and HomeTown Health – health care. He came to health care as a result of soaring insurance costs for his manufacturing company. After forming a partially self-funded insurance program for his company, his health care involvement led him to a position on the board of directors of a hospital. He ultimately sold Cross Equipment Company to become market development officer for that hospital. That opened the door to becoming Vice President of Government Relations for Columbia/HCA’s 20 hospitals for the state of Georgia. Thereafter, he took his knowledge of the rural health care delivery system in Georgia, resigned Columbia HCA, and formed a consulting company, The Leadership Group. The Leadership Group sponsored development of the Georgia Rural Hospital Roundtable. The Roundtable had 22 rural hospitals as members. Its purpose was advocacy for rural hospitals in the state legislature in Georgia. Members were limited to hospitals that had fewer than 100 licensed beds.

With much success and tremendous publicity for the issues of Georgia’s rural hospitals, one legislator pronounced that because of the Georgia Roundtable’s effort “rural hospitals in Georgia now have a seat at the table”. From there, Jimmy moved forward with a nucleus of those Roundtable hospitals and formed HomeTown Health, LLC of which he is CEO. HomeTown Health is a business development company advocating for and developing business opportunities for at least 55 member rural hospitals in Georgia. Activities range from managed care, to collective purchasing, statewide marketing, as well as legislative representation. HomeTown Health’s efforts have been very instrumental in saving many of Georgia’s rural hospitals.

Jimmy has been instrumental in passing key rural legislation and regulation for hospital based nursing homes, state merit, PPS and critical access hospitals. All of these have been key to the survival of rural hospitals and rural health care in Georgia.

Under his leadership, HomeTown Health has grown to now a Georgia based virtual company where business partners and hospital members have cumulatively over $800 million in annual sales from the 55 rural and small hospitals and 49 business partners. HomeTown Health has expanded services into education as well having developed HomeTown Health University which now boasts of over 2000 students mostly in the Business Office arena for rural hospitals and also the employment of GoToMeeting which is a conference call and white board capability media tool. HomeTown Health just completed over 1500 hours of training for rural hospitals in 50 geographic sites the recent conversion of Georgia’s Medicaid to commercials payors.

Jimmy has been quoted many times by newspapers and magazines including the Wall Street Journal, Florida Times, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution as well as serving as a speaker to many governments and trade groups on the dilemma of rural hospitals and health care.

Jimmy has been involved in very many state and local economic development and leadership projects. He is a recipient of a number of professional awards and recognitions. He served as the 1993 Chairman of the Albany/Dougherty Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 1992 and served three years as a host on the Georgia Red Carpet Tour, and worked ten years on the Southwest Georgia Fall Feather Hunt, the last two as Chairman. He received several business awards including 1992 Small Business Owner of the Year for Southwest Georgia by the Albany Chamber of Commerce and 1992 Exporter of the Year by the Atlanta Cobb Chamber. He has served on the Georgia Chamber Board of Directors among other activities.

Jimmy is married with two grown sons. He and his wife June live in Cumming, Georgia. He has many active hobbies varying from sea kayaking, mountain biking, fishing and hunting to attending musical concerts.

Kathy Whitmire, Managing Director

Kathy Whitmire is the Managing Director for HomeTown Health, LLC, a network of 55 rural hospitals and 50 supporting business partners. She directs the management and education services offered to HomeTown’s hospital members and their affiliated clinics and physician practices. Kathy saw the need for revenue cycle and reimbursement education as a key to the survival of rural hospitals soon after she began working for HomeTown Health in 2000 and has since led over 100 training boot camps and workshops, 20 Rural Hospital Conferences, 250 Medicare and Medicaid Webinars, 36 RAC Readiness Webinars and on-site hospitals trainings. She has developed and taught education programs in the following categories the HIPAA, HITECH Act, Business Office/Revenue Cycle Performance Improvement, Part A and Part B Medicare Reimbursement and Compliance Education, Benefits of Critical Access Hospital/Cost based Reimbursement, Surviving the RACS – Recovery Audit Contractors, and most recently she is leading a group of hospital leaders through a one year HITECH/EHR Implementation program. Kathy also serves as Managing Director for HomeTown’s Virtual University, currently serving the education needs of more than 4000 healthcare employees nationwide. In 2005 she added a degree in Business Administration from American Intercontinental University with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration. She is also a member of Healthcare Financial Managers Association (HFMA).

Sherri Ackerman, GA-HITEC Project Coordinator

Sherri Ackerman joined the HTH/HTHU team in April of 2011 as HomeTown’s liaison to the Georgia Health Information Technology Extension Center (GA-HITEC). GA-HITEC had recently received grant funding to support rural hospitals in their move to meaningful use of electronic health records. As the outreach and education partner, HomeTown Health works with 55 rural hospitals by engaging the hospitals with the Extension Center, coordinating health it live training events and webinars as well as providing courses on the GA-HITEC Online Training Center.

Sherri holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. Previously, she led Client Services at an Atlanta advertising agency, specializing in recruitment. Sherri and her husband, Nat, have 3 children, Troup, Sela, and Milli and reside in Alpharetta where she is active in Mount Pisgah UMC, her children’s schools, and several community organizations including a volunteer group working on projects and events for the city of Alpharetta.

Desi Barrett, Education Services Specialist

Desi attended Gainesville State College and received a Bachelors in Business Administration. In 2001. After graduation, she was office manager for a Broadcast Company, Kinescope in Athens, GA until wanting to spend more time with her daughters.

In 2004, Desi took a position teaching Pre-K at The Little School for 6 years. In 2010, Desi joined the staff of  HTHU part time & eventually full time in 2012.

Desi currently resides in Clarkesville, Ga with her daughters, Anna-Paige & Emma. She attends 1st Presbyterian Church and serves on the Communications Committee.

Jody Chesney, Education Editor

Jody joined HomeTown Health University in February of 2011.  She is responsible for course development and course review for HomeTown Health University.  Additionally, she recently took on the role of Accounts Receivable for HomeTown Health.

Jody recently went back to school and completed a second degree at Anderson University.  Her career path began in the banking industry with Bank of America as a teller and eventually found herself in Human Resources as a Recruiter.  Her most recent position before coming to HomeTown Health was with TFE Logistics as an Assistant HR Director.

Jody resides in Simpsonville, SC  with her husband Jason and her son, Tillman.  In her spare time she is a volunteer with Donate Life SC and occasionally speaks on behalf of the American Heart Association. She is an active member of her church and participates in many community projects with her Sunday School class.

Susannah Cowart, Director of Florida Division

Susannah joined Hometown in April 2013 as Customer Relations Coordinator for the Florida Division. A native of Tifton, Georgia, she attended Abraham Baldwin College and continued to Brenau Women’s College in Gainesville, Georgia. Serving in a critical access hospital for 8 years, Susannah has diverse healthcare experience in materials management, marketing and community relations. Susannah and her husband of 15 years, Jake, currently reside in Vero Beach, Florida.

Chris Denson, M.P.H., Director of Management Services

Chris Denson has been a member of the HomeTown Health team since November of 2012. As the Director of Management Services, he is responsible for coordinating the “best practice” healthcare products and solutions offered though HomeTown Health’s Business Partner Program to its member hospitals.

Chris was first exposed to the complex and ever changing world of healthcare while handling constituent services and Veterans Affairs policy as a staff member for U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss. After continuing his professional career in the antitrust department for the Washington, D.C. office of White & Case LLP, Chris realized that his true passion was helping those in his home state of Georgia. His subsequent time spent as a summer administrative resident at Southeast Georgia Health System helped provide valuable insight to the challenges rural hospitals face in this current environment and a deep admiration for the professionals striving to provide the highest quality care for their communities.

A native of Douglasville, Georgia, Chris received his A.B. in American Politics from Princeton University and his M.P.H. in Health Policy and Management from the University of Georgia. He resides in Athens, Georgia.

Linda Fausett, RCM Master Instructor

Linda Fausett is the Master Instructor for Revenue Cycle Management/Patient Financial Services for Hometown Health, LLC. Linda started working in a hospital in the Patient Access Department in 1984. She has since worked in many areas of the hospital setting including Patient Access Manager, IS Manager, Billing Manager, and Patient Financial Services Manager.

Linda understands the need for continuing education in the Patient Financial Services area; and, after 23 years of experience, she has developed a great passion for healthcare and the needs of the healthcare employees.

Melissa Nelson, Director of Accounting

Melissa Nelson joined the HomeTown Health staff in 2011 serving as the Director of Accounting. Prior to working at HomeTown, Melissa served as the Financial Director at First Bpatist Church of Simpsonville.

Melissa completed a Management and Accounting Degree from Anderson University. She and her husband Jon married in 2005 and have a son, Colten. They enjoy cheering for the Clemson Tigers together as a family.

Jennie Price, Director of Business Development

Jennie joined the HomeTown Health team in May 2014 with experience in healthcare risk management and marketing, and having worked with a number of member hospitals.  Jennie’s specialties, outside of marketing, include professional liability such as medical malpractice, and property/casualty insurance.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Berry College in Rome, GA in Communication, as well as Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies. She has earned a variety of  designations in the area of insurance and risk management, including the Accredited Advisor of Insurance (AAI), Registered Professional Liability Underwriter (RPLU), and Associate in Risk Management (ARM).

Jennie lives in Decatur with her husband Jon, but they spend many weekends at their cabin in Ellijay “disconnecting” from the city  — hiking, fishing and relaxing with their two dogs, family and friends.

Annie Lee Sallee, Revenue Cycle Education Specialist

Annie Lee has worked in healthcare since 2005. Since starting her career in healthcare she has become certified through AHIMA as a RHIT and an approved AHIMA ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer as well as certified through AAPC with a CPC and CPMA. Annie Lee has worked with the Medical University of South Carolina as a clinical revenue manager as well as a revenue cycle project manager. She has experience working with revenue enhancement projects related to both facility and professional billing. She has come on board with HomeTown Health to assist with developing revenue cycle education. Annie Lee resides in Charleston, SC with her husband, Paul, and Cael, her son.

Kristy Thomson, M.S. Director of Education

Kristy Thomson is the Director of Education for HomeTown Health University. She is primarily responsible for HomeTown Health University, www.hthu.net. She also leads most technical projects for HomeTown Health.

After graduating from Stephens County High School in Toccoa, Georgia, Kristy received a B.S. from Clemson University and an M.S. from the University of Georgia. Before moving back home to North Georgia, she worked as the Project Coordinator for the Town of Jupiter, Jupiter, Florida where her technical skills were quickly realized. While at the Town of Jupiter, Kristy received many Microsoft certifications and worked very closely with the IT Department to gain efficiency throughout the Town by maximizing the advantages of computer technology.

Kristy has been working with HomeTown since the summer of 2006 and was asked to join the HomeTown Team in November of 2007. She currently lives in Clarkesville, Georgia with her husband, John Lee, and her two sons, Jack and Luke.  She currently serves as IACET Awards Committee Member, Treasurer on TLS Primary Academy Board of Trustees and President of Grindstone Creek Home Owners Association.

Susan Wiese, Director of Communications/Events

Susan joined HomeTown Health in June, 2011 as Director of Communications.  Since that time, she has also assumed the responsibilities of Director of Events.  She is primarily responsible for the various avenues of communications used to keep our members up-to-date on announcements, educational offerings and meetings scheduled.  She also co-ordinates all live events that are sponsored by HTH.

Susan and her husband, Larry live in Demorest, GA and are the proud Nana and PopPop of Connor and Suzanna.

Meghan Williams, Customer Relations Coordinator

Meghan Williams is the Customer Relations Coordinator for HomeTown Health University. Meghan joined the HTHU staff in May 2012 and is responsible for coordinating social media for HomeTown Health & HTHU, website development and maintenance, education reporting for subscribers, education course review, as well as coordination of sales/marketing/retention for HTHU.

After graduating from Early County High School in Blakely, GA, Meghan completed a B.A. in Speech Communications from the University of Georgia. Meghan’s career in healthcare began as a Human Resources Director in southwest Georgia where she was responsible for all aspects of employee relations, payroll/benefits, workers compensation, annual education development and training, as well as serving as the HIPAA Compliance Officer. She also served as an active member of the hospital authority’s volunteer group.

Meghan lives with her husband, Michael, and daughters, Hayley and Bowen, in Bluffton, GA. Together their family comprises Clearwater Ministries, a faith-based ministry, and serve at Bluffton Baptist Church.