John McKelligott from Occupational Health Systems

Dr. John McKellegott has dedicated his career to improving the health of the people of East Tennessee.

He co-founded several healthcare companies, including Summit Medical Group and Knoxville-based Occupational Health Systems. Occupational Health Systems provides care to workers injured on the job, employs 20 people and has a second location in Clinton.

He has helped those dealing with opioid addiction and created a nonprofit organization to help truck drivers receive care for medical conditions.

Received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Healthcare Champions.

But his path to becoming the esteemed “Doctor John” was not exemplary.

McKellegott, an all-American swimmer with a medium butterfly stroke in Midland, Texas, wanted to swim in college. But his grades prevented him from attending colleges that offered him scholarships.

Dr. John McElligott poses for a photo outside his office, Friday, July 15, 2022. McElligott receives the Health Care Heroes Lifetime Achievement Award.

He ended up going to Odessa Junior College, and then Old Dominion University in Virginia.

He joined the US Navy at the age of eighteen, and became a combat medic in the Vietnam War. He said he chose the Navy to protect it from conscription by the Army, because he didn’t like the green uniform.

He would end up passing it on to the Marines before it could be deployed.

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