Covenant Health is now operating partner of Dollywood employee healthcare center

By | September 22, 2023

IGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Dollywood Parks & Resorts and Covenant Health have announced that the East Tennessee healthcare system now serves as the operating partner for the theme park company’s employee healthcare center. The two entities have enjoyed a strong partnership since February 2020, when Covenant Health was named the “Official Health System Partner of Dollywood.”

Dollywood employees—or hosts as they are known—enjoy a large number of perks, including free lunches, 100% free tuition through the Herschend GROW U. program, complimentary park admissions for family and friends, as well as free or reduced admission to a large number of regional attractions. A key benefit for all hosts and their families, however, is access to the on-site Dollywood Family Healthcare Center.

“The Dollywood Family Healthcare Center is a unique benefit for our employees,” said Dollywood Parks & Resorts President Eugene Naughton. “Thanks to our partners at Covenant Health, we are able to provide a high-quality and convenient healthcare option that is affordable for our hosts and their families. We take host care very seriously, and I’m proud that we have a relationship with a team that feels the same way.

“Not only does Covenant Health believe in our mission of creating long-lasting memories for our guests, they sponsor two of our popular festivals—Flower & Food Festival and Great Pumpkin LumiNights—as well as our baby care facilities and nursing centers. They are eager to provide the absolute best healthcare experience possible for our hosts. We’ve leaned on them a lot since 2020, and I’m glad we’re able to now partner in this way. It just makes sense!”

The partnership began at a crucial time. The multi-year agreement was announced in February 2020, less than a month before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Dollywood Parks & Resorts officials relied heavily on Covenant Health’s team of experts for guidance in reopening and managing The Dollywood Company properties during the pandemic. From the beginning, the goal of the partnership has been to focus on the organizations’ shared commitments to excellence, strong and vibrant communities, guest services and experiences, and to improving the quality of life in the region.

“At first, Covenant Health’s partnership with Dollywood seemed like a great opportunity to raise the awareness of our great enterprise to the people of East Tennessee, but after the pandemic changed nearly every way we lived our lives, the partnership became a clear opportunity to improve the health and wellness of park employees and visitors,” said Jim VanderSteeg, Covenant Health President and CEO. “Now, we are pleased to expand that role by providing healthcare for Dollywood’s employees and their families.”

Through the years, Covenant Health has offered a number of health-related activities for Dollywood guests, including sponsorship of hand sanitizing stations and health tips signage throughout the park. Covenant also became a co-presenting sponsor of Dollywood’s Light the Way 5k. In addition, the partnership extended to the park’s baby care facilities, adult changing areas, nursing centers, and Dollywood’s calming room, one of the first at a theme park in the world. 

Dollywood’s “BIG” 2023 season, which includes the May debut of the Big Bear Mountain roller coaster and the opening of HeartSong Lodge & Resort this October, continues with the upcoming Harvest Festival (Sept. 20- Oct. 30). The award-winning festival features Great Pumpkin LumiNights presented by Covenant Health and has become an annual tradition for millions of people during its existence. The season concludes with the theme park industry’s best Christmas event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas. With more than 6 million lights, it’s the perfect way to experience the holidays!