The Class of 2017 profiles the women and men who joined the AHA board this yearAgee

AHA board member Nancy Howell Agee has seen a tremendous change over the past few years in terms of expectations from the community around health care, from the demand for healthy food and walkways to new retail clinics.

“We’re developing a village mentality and a shared responsibility for health care,” says Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic (Roanoke, Va). “It’s exciting to come together and ask how we can work together to improve health.”

Carilion is an integrated health care organization serving communities in the western part of Virginia. Seven years ago the organization made an intentional move towards population health management when it evolved from a traditional hospital-based system to a clinic system with a large physician group and hospitals in an integrated model.

Agee says their focus is on delivering good quality and safe care – what she thinks of as the magical moment between the clinician and the patient – regardless of the setting. 

“We’ve consistently talked about how we’re not just a hospital,” says Agee. “Developing that quilt of health services was very intentional and that makes a difference in how the community sees us.”

Carilion is vested in maintaining the trust and respect of the communities they serve, which span across a third of the state. The organization has found many ways to continually communicate as well support and engage community members in a meaningful way. For instance, Agee hosts monthly CEO breakfasts with stakeholders from the community, where she says she’s learned a lot.

“We recognize that they are our stakeholders,” says Agee. “Carilion doesn’t have stockholders; it’s the communities we serve that drive our decisions.”

While Agee believes hospitals across the country will slowly continue to evolve towards population health management, she stresses the need for continued balance. She says the growing number of people with multiple chronic health conditions, coupled with the aging population, will still result in a surge in patients needing inpatient care over the next decade.

 “Some think we’re moving so much into population health management that they don’t recognize we’ll still need hospitals,” says Agee. “Hospitals are a big part of many communities and there’s a great deal of pride and comfort there. That’s something we shouldn’t lose sight of.”

Agee brings a long career and diverse experiences to her role on the AHA board, especially her experience as a clinician and in leading physicians, as well as seeing through major organizational change.

Agee began her career in nursing and has served in various management roles with Carilion in the past 20 years. In 1996, she was appointed vice president and has gradually assumed increasing administrative and executive leadership roles. She is a member of the AHA’s Committee on Commissioners to The Joint Commission, the section for Health Care Systems Governing Council and a Regional Policy Board (RPB) 3 state delegate, and a member of the Medicare DSH Advisory Group.

As an AHA trustee, Agee is looking forward to serving the field as well as strengthening her relationships and discussing policy.

 “I think of it as a RPB on steroids,” says Agee. “And I loved working on the RPB.”

Hear how Carilion Clinic has been redefining its role as a hospital and engaging with its community. Listen in here.