Roanoke alumnus named to Virginia health board

Tommy East '94 has been appointed to the Virginia Board of Health by Governor Terri McAuliffe.

The board is a 15-member independent agency that regulates health facilities in the state.

In May, East, who is president and CEO of American HealthCare in Roanoke, was appointed to this state board to manage the nursing home industry.  

In his new role, East will establish the framework for Virginia public health services, work to fight AIDS, promote health education and ensure outreach to the state's citizens, with an emphasis on those in nursing home care. 

"I am truly honored to be appointed to the Board of Health," said East. "I hope to serve as a primary advocate and representative of the citizens of the Commonwealth in achieving optimal health."

East has developed a strong reputation in the health care arena in the Roanoke Valley since his start at Richfield Nursing Home in 1981.

East graduated from Virginia Western Community College with an associate's degree in Business Management, and soon after, Ted Russell, president and CEO of Richfield Retirement Community in Salem, offered East a job.

A fast pitch softball coach and family friend, Russell promised East a part-time job at Richfield as a bookkeeper for the Business Office if East continued to pursue his education.  

East then enrolled at Roanoke College for night classes while working at Richfield during the day. It was during his Richfield job that East became interested in pursuing a career in health care.

While studying at Roanoke, East was a bookkeeper, business office manager, administrator-in-training, assistant administrator and administrator at Richfield.

In 1994, he graduated from Roanoke with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration.

"Roanoke's education was instrumental in preparing me and teaching me how to make a difference," said East.

After graduating from Roanoke, East continued working at Richfield as administrator, where he directed day-to-day operations. Some of his other tasks included directing personnel, maintaining budgets and implementing activities for the residents. 

East held other roles at Richfield, such as vice president of assisted living facilities and vice president of administration.

Since Richfield, East has worked for Tandem Healthcare and Adventa Hospice Services/Amedisys.

In 2012, East became president and CEO at American HealthCare, where he is responsible for the operational management of 17 Heritage Hall Healthcare and Rehabilitation Centers throughout Virginia.

He also is responsible for educating associates, developing programs to benefit the patients and managing 2,000 patient beds.

A Salem native, East has served on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Health Care Association.

East's son, Karlyn East '17, now attends Roanoke. He is a member of the College's golf team and plans to major in history and education.

-Published July 31, 2014

Released: July 31, 2014