JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The chief executive officer of one of the region’s largest medical providers has announced his retirement.

Richard Panek has been with State of Franklin Healthcare Associates for 26 years after starting with the company in March 1997.

“I think it’s been a great experience,” Panek told News Channel 11. “The clinic has done really, really well. And I’m feeling very pleased and encouraged about the future of the company.”

During Panek’s time with SOFHA, the company expanded to 30 locations and grew to 250 providers. SOFHA operates clinics all the way from Southwest Virginia to Elizabethton.

“We’ve really grown exponentially,” he said. “We have over 150,000 patients under our care, and we’ll see over 650,000 encounters – individual encounters this year.”

Panek plans to remain with SOFHA as the Chief Strategy Officer for another six months during a transitionary period.

After that, however, Panek plans to spend his retirement golfing and fishing.