MORGANTOWN — MedExpress founder and Morgantown resident Dr. Frank Alderman has taken on a new role in the organization: moving from CEO to chairman.
But that doesn’t mean he’ll have less to do. He assumed his new post June 1 and he’s taken on a broader role at MedExpress’ parent company, Optum, which is in turn a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group.
While aiding the transition for his successor, he said, and continuing to help guide MedExpress’ strategy, innovation and growth, he’ll be tapping his years of healthcare and business experience to benefit Optum.
Optum is the health services wing of UnitedHealth Group, with UnitedHealthcare being the health benefits wing.
For Optum, he’ll be involved in the consumer and retail aspects of healthcare — MedExpress, worksite clinics, virtual and digital medicine — while fostering communications and strategic business relationships.
“For me personally, I’m thrilled and it was perfect timing,” he said.
MedExpress began with a single Wharf District office in Morgantown in 2001. Alderman drew on his own past and the changing face of healthcare to develop the model.
He was raised in White Sulphur Springs, the youngest of six children. The other five all worked at the nearby Greenbrier, where the motto was “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
Alderman went to college, studying pharmacy, medicine and emergency medicine. He observed that many emergency room visitors didn’t really require emergency-level care — they simply couldn’t get into their primary care office quickly enough.
He was inspired to combine medicine — which had been largely clinician based and often uncomfortable or intimidating— with the kind of customer service he learned from his siblings. MedExpress would offer a welcoming environment based on the values of friendliness, caring and service, and at a more affordable price than emergency care.
They polished the model, opened a second center in 2004 and had seven by 2007, he said. That’s when they decided to make it a brand, with every new center offering the same recognizable look and atmosphere and providing the same philosophy of care.
By April 2105, when Optum bought MedExpress, the company had 141 centers in 11 states and five worksite-based clinics in two states.
Now, there are 250 centers and 46 worksite clinics in 27 states. They expect to serve 4 million patients this year.
There are 26 centers in West Virginia employing 800 people. While the company’s main office is in Canonsburg, Pa., MedExpress also operates an administrative office in Sabraton.
The Sabraton office will relocate to Cheat Lake, as work on a new building has begun near the Cheat Lake exit of I-68 by W.Va. Route 43. Work is expected to be complete by spring 2019.
MedExpress also has, according to a map provided, 41 new centers planned in 11 states, including three new states.
At several sites, they’re piloting intravenous infusion of specialty pharmaceuticals, in order to offer the service in a lower-cost, more comfortable setting.
Alderman’s successor as CEO is Jonathan Walker, who has been with the company five years and previously served as president and chief financial officer.
Alderman likes to spend his free time with his family – his wife and two children, one in college and one starting in the fall. They enjoy traveling and visiting family in Wheeling and White Sulphur Springs, exercising, going out to dinner and having friends over.
His humble past, he said, gave him his perspective on life. He’s grateful for health, family, sunny days and rainy days. “I’m just blessed and happy.” Everyone encounters adversity. “It’s how you deal with it that determines how successful you are or your outlook in life in general.”
Reflecting on the company and its growth, he said, “We are very proud that we were founded in Morgantown.” West Virginia is often mischaracterized. “I think we can do special things and I’d like to think MedExpress has played a small part in some of this healthcare revolution that we see. I’m sure we have. … I have a phenomenal team and I’m one person.”