Newly Created Wellspring Foundation to Benefit Washington County, Virginia

Nov 18, 2021 | Wellspring Foundation

Former Johnston Memorial Healthcare Foundation now functioning as independent organization

ABINGDON, Va., Nov. 18, 2021 — A new foundation will soon be working to increase the quality of health, life and well-being for residents of Washington County, Virginia, and neighboring communities.

The Wellspring Foundation has been created following the recent sale of Johnston Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s minority ownership stake in Johnston Memorial Hospital to Ballad Health. Previously, Ballad Health acquired 50.1% of the hospital in 2009 while operating as Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA). 

The funds from the transaction create an independent, local healthcare foundation valued at $281 million. As the Foundation’s funds generate interest, the proceeds will be used to support projects which will strengthen the healthcare infrastructure and improve the health of persons in our region. 

According to Wellspring leaders, the Foundation is now free to act as an independent entity.

“Ballad Health’s purchase of the Foundation’s remaining portion of assets generates a number of advantages for residents of our immediate region,” said William H. “Bill” Hayter, chair of the board for Wellspring. “We now have the financial and operational independence needed to begin investing in initiatives that increase health and well-being for residents of Washington County, Virginia, and neighboring communities.”

The Wellspring Foundation is separate from the similarly named Johnston Memorial Hospital Foundation, which continues to function in support of the Abingdon-based medical facility.

Wellspring leaders also announced Thursday that Sean McMurray, who served as the chief executive officer of Johnston Memorial Hospital when the current facility first opened in 2011, will join the Foundation in December as executive director to help establish guidelines and oversee operations.

“We could not ask for anyone who has a more in-depth understanding of our collective challenges, broader respect in the community, or greater skill to help bring about positive change for our region,” Hayter said. “We are very pleased to name Sean as the Wellspring executive director and look forward to collaborating with him to develop the needed infrastructure to guide the Foundation’s actions and longevity.”

McMurray will have the support and guidance of an 11-member board that has named the values of transparency, compassion and collaboration as central principles governing the Foundation’s focus. 

“It takes time to lay the groundwork for this kind of organization, and we want to make sure we do things correctly from the start,” said McMurray, who will be stepping down from his current position as senior vice president of market operations and service line integration and development for Ballad Health. “Members of our board are involved in every area of our community and able to provide insight into the deeper issues affecting our overall health. We are working together to assess the greatest areas of need and opportunity for our region, and over the next 12-18 months we expect to have our guidelines and office established so that we can put expertise and resources to work on behalf of our families and neighbors.”

Potential Foundation focus areas may include support for healthcare professional recruitment and retention, initiatives that strengthen community fabric and the workforce such as affordable child care and adult care services, and expansion of access to behavioral health services, among others.

“This agreement accomplishes the twin goals of providing Washington County with a new, autonomous health advocate while also furthering the stability and consistency of healthcare in the Appalachian Highlands,” said Alan Levine, chairman and CEO of Ballad Health. “The members of the Wellspring board live and work in the very areas they plan to serve, and they understand the many complex health issues facing our region. We’re glad to have the Foundation as a partner in tackling these challenges and creating lasting, positive change.”

For more information on the Wellspring Foundation, visit



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