Novant Clemmons Medical Center names Dr. John Mann to be new president and COO

Published 12:10 am Thursday, March 21, 2019

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By Eric Olson
For the Clemmons Courier

In 2016, Dr. John Mann gave up his role as a surgeon to move into hospital administration. In doing so, however, he left behind what was to him a very rewarding and accomplished career lasting more than 25 years.

It was a job that he truly loved but giving up his operating room duties soon proved to him he had made the right decision.

“I did love performing surgery and I still today miss the environment of the operating room,” he said. “It is a unique culture, and I miss the people and activities I was involved in for my entire career. If I woke up dreading what I was doing, then I would have gone back to be a surgeon. As I shifted more and more to this, though, I discovered a lot of joy in it.”

“This” is Mann’s new role as president and chief operating officer at Novant Health Clemmons Medical Center.

In office for just a few weeks, he replaces Chad Setliff, who recently moved into the same role at Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

Clemmons Medical Center, first opened in April 2013, offers area residents a 36-bed hospital, with 12 more beds in the ER. It also provides imaging, laboratory, surgery and orthopedic services. The facility was expanded to a full-service hospital in August 2017 to provide critical services to the growing Clemmons community.

Mann will also oversee the new Ambulatory Surgical Center and Medical office building, currently under construction across the parking lot from the main hospital. That new facility will add another two operating rooms, with a procedure room and 20,000 square feet of office space, to the medical center. He said it should open by early August and, if all goes to plan, hopes the first surgical procedures will be performed there by the middle of September.

The entire medical campus is located just off Village Point Drive between Harper Road and Lewisville-Clemmons Road on the northwest side of Interstate 40.

“It will be part of my role here to identify the scope and vision of the hospital and then reach out to the members of the Clemmons community, eastern Davie and other surrounding zip codes to understand what the community needs,” Mann said from his new office. “Internally, we can say this is what Clemmons Medical needs to offer, but then we have to ensure it’s what the community needs and wants, while recognizing we can’t offer everything here.”

Any expansion would be limited by North Carolina’s Certificate of Need (CON) law, which limits health care providers from acquiring, replacing, or adding to their facilities and equipment without the approval of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“If we could add beds and add operating rooms freely it would give us the luxury of doing anything and everything we wanted — a luxury we don’t have,” Mann admitted. “So, any expansion must be done in a well-planned, responsible way and be sensitive to the fact that anytime we add another service here it will necessitate more doctors making rounds here, in addition to those they may make in Kernersville, and at Forsyth and Medical Park. It really impacts the surgeon’s ability to be efficient and provide timely care, because you don’t want that same doctor having an emergency in Kernersville when they have one in Clemmons.

“So, those are some of the things we are having to work through to determine exactly what’s right for this campus,” he concluded.

After having grown up in Durham, Mann did his undergrad at Duke University where, he said, he was first introduced to medicine by working as a nurse’s aide. He came west to Winston-Salem in 1989 to complete his medical degree at Wake Forest University, where he also did his general surgery residency. In 1998 he joined Salem Surgical Associates, which was at that time an independent group until affiliating with Novant about 10 years ago.

During his career working for Novant in Forsyth County, he has serviced patients at Forsyth Hospital, Medical Park, and the Kernersville and Clemmons medical centers.

He did try to be both a practicing surgeon and an administrator but soon found that the two roles did not mesh well for him.

“I just found it impossible to do both over the last year because I was traveling so much of the time to the point I realized I could not adequately take care of my patients,” he admitted. “It wasn’t fair to them for me to do a procedure and then leave the next day and it wasn’t fair to me to be on the road worrying about patients I had pledged to take care of.”

The time Mann spends on the road is due to another responsibility he has aside from managing Novant Clemmons Medical Center.

He is also the health system’s surgical service line physician leader for several hospitals in North Carolina and northern Virginia, a position he has held since giving up being a full-time surgeon three years ago. Prior to that, he did the same job for Novant’s greater Winston-Salem market for two years.

Service line structures focus on patient-centered, coordinated care. In Novant’s case, it aims to provide a one-stop shop for a specific set of services, such as a women’s health service line, a heart and vascular service line, a skeletal line, a surgical line – 10 lines in total within the health network.

The idea is that patients receive all needed services from an integrated team of providers at a single Novant location or set of locations.

“I manage those surgical lines along with two other administrative partners for the system,” Mann explained. “Within that we are responsible for the functions at the operating rooms we have at all 15 Novant hospitals, but also the other surgical sub-specialties that don’t fit into any of the service lines — such as general surgery, colorectal surgery, breast surgery, bariatric surgery — and then partnering with anesthesia, gastroenterology, and other medical services.”

Within Mann’s scope is helping to create new clinics, if necessary, or partnering with independent facilities in Charlotte, Salisbury, Virginia and the North Carolina coast, as well the greater Winston-Salem area.

“We try to attract independent doctors to work in our facilities or expand to meet our needs if we identify a sub-specialty that we don’t have,” Mann continued. “If we or our independent partners don’t have a specific kind of care to offer patients, we would grow it within our Novant Healthcare group.”

During the past 30 years, he and his wife, Suzanne, rooted their family in eastern Davie County. Together, they have two daughters, Ashton, who attends the University of Virginia; and Alexis, a student at Davie High School.

Indeed, the only time Mann has left the area in those three decades was when he moved to Providence, RI, for a year to finish his minimally-invasive surgery fellowship at Brown University.

“That training led me to learn laparoscopic surgery in the abdomen — either gall bladder, adrenal or colon surgery — which is all focused on performing surgery with little holes and cameras,” Mann said. “Towards the end of my surgical career that transitioned into robotic surgery, so I found certain procedures that patients benefited from robotically. When I made the transition into administration, and I had molded my career exactly as I wanted, it was probably 50 percent minimally-invasive surgery and the remainder was complex, hernia-type work.

“It was almost a perfect world I had left because I had good partners that supported me there, and in the transition,” he continued. “It’s hard to be a part-time surgeon without that support because although I am no longer working full time as a surgeon, my patients are still calling with needs. When they do, I am able to turn to my partners to assist them.”