Ellen F. Wilhoit

Ellen F. Wilhoit
2006 Award of Honor

– Class of 1979

In the 1970s, women only dreamed about filling senior leadership roles in health care. Not until the early 90s were women beginning to appear in the fore front of high-level health care administrations. It was a fact; females did not fill these positions in the Volunteer State . However, someone forgot to tell Ellen F. Wilhoit.

Wilhoit continued to accept challenging opportunities afforded her within the health care arena and became the President/CAO of Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center and Nursing Home in 1999. Her road to becoming one of the first females filling a senior leadership role in East Tennessee started at East Tennessee State University in 1979, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Just one year earlier she married her husband Shane who is also an ETSU alum, who knew his wife was destined for greatness. Wilhoit's initial interests were in critical care nursing and later focused on obstetrical and family nursing. She became interested in promoting health and wellness through community health education and even served as a childbirth educator and CPR instructor.

Wilhoit's road to President/CAO intensified with her move to Sevierville with her husband in 1987. Wilhoit held several positions including COO/Assistant Administrator at Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center , Vice President of Women's Services for Fort Sanders Health System, and Director of Nursing for Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center . Wanting more, she went back to school.

Her desire for continuing education led her to a Master of Science in Health Services Administration from St. Francis in December of 1994. She graduated with academic distinction.

Wilhoit's daughters, Beth and Brooke, knew their mom was always challenging herself. They did not realize until they were older just how much their mom was involved. Wilhoit has held numerous professional memberships such as Secretary/Treasurer of the Knoxville Area Hospital Council, member of the inaugural class of Leadership Sevier, Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, Tennessee Hospital Association and East Tennessee Healthcare Executives Association, serving on the board of directors.

Wilhoit currently serves on boards of several community agencies, including the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains , where she received the National Service to Youth Award in January 2001, Sevierville Public Building Authority, Dr. Robert F. Thomas Foundation Board and East Tennessee State University College of Nursing Community Advisory Board, among others.

In her 34 years of health care experience Wilhoit still stays focused "As a hospital and nursing home administrator, I strive to keep quality patient care as my central focus," Wilhoit said "I enjoy the relationships our facility has with the local schools of nursing and seek every opportunity to assist nursing students to advance in their nursing field of choice."