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VIProfile: Joey Peay

After 20 years with the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic, Joey Peay has seen many changes in the healthcare industry over the years, but one thing that remains the same is his passion for serving his hometown community.

“People here in town refer to us as ‘the clinic,’ not Murfreesboro Medical Clinic,” said Peay, who’s served as CEO for 15 years following being the CFO. “Those people are my friends, my family and the people who make up this community … what I value most is being able to have an impact on my community.”

Driven by a mission to help others, Peay says his life was changed some years back when he took a Bible course that focused on Genesis 12, where God’s conversation with Abraham served as a reminder that we are all given talents so that we can in turn use those talents to bless others. This principle has become an inspiration in Peay’s life both professionally and personally.

“The help I give other people — they benefit, yes, for sure, but the benefit I get is amazing,” he said. “If we could all live by that more just think of how much better our world would be … Don’t be afraid to help people.”

Peay’s primary goal as CEO is to attract and retain quality healthcare providers that will in turn impact the overall health of the Murfreesboro community. He does this by making sure those providers have the tools they need to flourish in their practices while also creating an environment at MMC that fosters a healthy and “give back” spirit.

MMC is known for its activism in the community as well, with the Special Kids race and MMC Hearts & Hands being two popular names tied to the facility as solid fundraisers for the community.

“When I became CEO I said I’d like to spread it around,” said Peay, explaining the process MMC uses in determining what organizations it will support each year. Employees nominate different organizations, which are then narrowed down to the top three to determine which groups will be supported any given year.

“It has to have a local connection and it has to help people,” Peay said. “That’s it.” Though his education and former career are in the accounting and finance worlds, through his experience at MMC over the years, Peay has become very good at several aspects of his job that go beyond black and white numbers. A master communicator and problem solver, when Peay goes home at night he shifts gears again and puts on his farmer hat, finding great peace in working the hay fields and herding livestock on his and his wife’s farm in Readyville.

Married to Charlotte Peay, the couple has four grown children, Madilyn, Natalie, Zachary and Carolyn. The Peays enjoy life at home, working on the farm, traveling and eating out at some of their local favorites when afforded the chance.

When he came into his role at MMC 20 years ago, Peay said he was looking for something closer to home and felt blessed when presented with the opportunity to be CFO. Now, after being CEO for 15 years, he’s proud to look back and see great success with a future that’s looking bright for the hometown clinic.

“The growth that we’ve had here in Murfreesboro and the culture we’ve been able to create makes MMC attractive to quality physicians,” said Peay, adding that the number of providers is projected to reach 85 by the end of 2018, up from 37 in 2001. “We have to have a growing and vibrant atmosphere here to keep up with our growing population needs.”

Every day is different for Peay and presents a new challenge, but in short, he describes his role as fulfilling the goals of his Board of Directors. “If they look at me and say, ‘Joey, we want to increase revenue 10 percent this year’ I take that and say, ‘I’m on it,’” he said.

Whether it be improving the facilities, providing the right supplies, overseeing expenses, handling personnel issues, dealing with insurance regulations, Peay aims to help provide an environment at MMC where providers can thrive and be successful in their practice.

MMC has nine-member board and a physician led finance committee so the physicians are the owners and the decision makers; they have a variety of mindsets and part of Peay’s job is to carrying out the collective mission of the group.

“Sometimes it’s difficult trying to convey to them why we need to do things a certain way, but after 20 years I’ve learned to speak ‘doctor,’” he laughed, explaining one of his strengths as CEO is his ability to communicate in different ways with different people, depending on the person and situation at hand. “Learning to be able to communicate with everyone across the spectrum has made me better equipped to address issues pre-emptively as well.”

In today’s world, Peay is quick to point out the two biggest challenges the healthcare industry is facing. The first is related to the cost of healthcare and the need to educate people that there are cheaper options.

“First and foremost, that is the most difficult topic to solve because people have been insulated from the true costs of healthcare,” he said. “Because of the way their services are paid for they don’t realize …. There are so many variables that drive the costs.”

The other biggest challenge, which is the same in Tennessee as everywhere else in the nation, is the opiod epidemic, which Peay says can only be solved by physicians and patients, one case at a time.

Looking ahead, Peay is excited about future expansion of MMC, specifically the facility’s satellite campus that will open in the next couple years on the city’s south side of town.

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