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Ballad Health announces major gift to support new pediatric emergency department coming to Bristol Regional Medical Center

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ballad Health announces major gift to support new pediatric emergency department coming to Bristol Regional Medical Center

Ballad Health’s plans to develop a new pediatric emergency department at Bristol Regional Medical Center got a boost this week when longtime community members stepped forward to endorse and support this new service for children in Sullivan County and Southwest Virginia.

The J.D. Nicewonder Family Pediatric Emergency Department, a service of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, will feature a separate entrance and designated treatment rooms for children and their families.

“Children and families are our greatest treasures, and we believe by supporting local healthcare, we’re making a substantial difference in their lives,” said J.D. Nicewonder. “It’s a true joy to work in partnership with Ballad Health to bring this new emergency room to Bristol Regional and make this region even better for families.”

“As the region’s children’s hospital, Niswonger Children’s Hospital is establishing carefully planned access points throughout the region where children can receive the care they need, closer to their homes,” said Lisa Carter, president of Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health’s vice president of pediatric services. “The quality of care at Bristol Regional Medical Center is excellent, and this will be an important access point to serve the Tennessee and Virginia families in the area.”

The new pediatric emergency department is being funded through a $1.2 million gift made in honor of J.D. and Lorraine Nicewonder, longtime supporters of Ballad Health programs and hospitals, and from funding provided by Ballad Health.

“This was an extremely generous gift, and we’re immeasurably grateful,” said Jack Simpson, president of Ballad Health Foundation. “The Nicewonder family has long been a champion of healthcare in this region, and this investment in children’s health services is a testament to their commitment to transforming local life and health.

“This gift is a strong vote of confidence and optimism in Bristol Regional and its future, as well as a sign of appreciation for our hospital,” added Simpson.

Unlike an all-ages emergency department, the J.D. Nicewonder Family Pediatric Emergency Department will feature child-friendly décor and furniture, a design feature that includes bright colors and patterns and continues the Niswonger Children’s Hospital motif of kites and hot air balloons.

The gift also made it possible for Ballad Health to offer child life specialists in the emergency department, who will help children cope with the stress of their visit and better understand their treatment.

“The child life team is a brand-new addition to Bristol Regional, and it’s a significant layer of support for children when they’re in the hospital,” Carter said. “Their specialized presence, along with our other children’s health experts, will ensure we’re providing Niswonger Children’s Hospital-quality care and elevating the level pediatric services in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.”

The J.D. Nicewonder Family Pediatric Emergency Room will be part of a regional system of care for children that includes a pediatric emergency room in Kingsport and pediatric surgical and trauma services at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City. The network aligns trauma services and hospital emergency rooms to ensure patients receive timely, appropriate care, and it will link all Ballad Health emergency rooms to Niswonger Children’s Hospital via telemedicine capabilities.

“We are so grateful to the Nicewonder family for their generosity, which will save and improve lives throughout the Appalachian Highlands,” said Greg Neal, chief executive officer of Bristol Regional Medical Center and president of Ballad Health’s northeast market. “The Nicewonders have been supporters of Bristol Regional for years, and their longstanding philanthropy is once again enabling this hospital to bring leading-edge healthcare capabilities to our community.”

Children who need further care will have a seamless transition to Niswonger Children’s Hospital’s main campus, which offers state-of-the-art pediatric care in a family-oriented environment and more than a dozen pediatric specialists.

Construction will begin after the ground breaking, which is set for this fall, and is expected to take several months.