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Ballad Health implements COVID-19 surge plan in Kingsport in line with preliminary recommendations to create a Women’s and Newborn Center of Excellence, from Local Visioning Committee

Monday, April 13, 2020

Ballad Health implements COVID-19 surge plan in Kingsport in line with preliminary recommendations to create a Women’s and Newborn Center of Excellence, from Local Visioning Committee

Visioning Committee composed of Kingsport leaders ranging from faith community to political, academic and business leadership

Building on preliminary recommendations from a Visioning Committee composed of local business, academic, physician and community leaders, and local practicing physicians, Ballad Health on Monday announced changes that will lead to a dedicated women’s and newborn facility, in Kingsport – the first of its kind in the region. The changes will help with near term efforts to enhance capacity for responding to COVID-19 while also leading towards the establishment of a dedicated women’s and newborn hospital linked with regional high acuity children’s services. These changes will also lead to bolstering Holston Valley Medical Center’s (HVMC) role as a regional high acuity tertiary hospital and further the integration of the individual hospitals into one hospital with two campuses.

Beginning this month, Ballad Health will continue to work towards the positioning of services at both its Kingsport hospitals to optimize facility and staffing resources to assist in the response to COVID-19. These changes comport with longer term preliminary recommendations by the Visioning Committee in Kingsport to enhance service offerings for women and newborns.

Julie Bennett, chair of the local Visioning Committee, explained that “in light of circumstances created by this public health crisis, the timeline for the women’s services consolidation will be accelerated.” She went on to share that, “The change builds on the Visioning Committee’s recommendation for our service area to have a state-of-the-art center to provide women’s and newborn care.”

Ballad Health will provide women’s and newborn services in Kingsport at Indian Path Community Hospital (IPCH). Current HVMC patients needing OB/Gyn care, including labor and delivery services, will now receive their care at IPCH. Dr. Kim Hunt, a pediatrician with Holston Medical Group, believes “the consolidation is going to be beneficial for all of our children and babies.” Any other children’s services appropriately offered in a community setting will also be offered at IPCH, and will remain part of the Niswonger Children’s Hospital network, providing seamless coordination with the region’s perinatal center and children’s hospital. And, in order to bolster the high acuity tertiary hospital services at HVMC, all Acuity Adjusted Unit (ICU/PCU) and all other medical/surgical services at IPCH will be consolidated into corresponding services at HVMC.

This step enhances Holston Valley Medical Center’s role as a regional tertiary hospital for the Appalachian Highlands by strengthening the hospital’s focus on high acuity services such as orthopedics, neurosurgery, stroke and heart care, trauma care, and high acuity surgery. The move also puts Ballad Health in the best position to prepare for and respond to the anticipated COVID-19 surge in Kingsport, and across the Appalachian Highlands, by increasing surge capacity at HVMC and better positioning both facilities to respond to the potential of team member illness or exposure.

The idea of investing in a dedicated women’s and newborn center of excellence was presented preliminarily to Ballad Health by the Kingsport Visioning Committee and other physician and community leaders. The recommendation of the committee is a step forward towards further integration between HVMC and IPCH, with specialized, but separate, services at each location. The timeline of this investment has now been accelerated by the immediate need to respond to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Both the Kingsport Visioning Committee and Ballad Health’s capital planning teams have been evaluating how to improve access to women’s services in Kingsport,” said Lindy White, President of Ballad Health’s Northwest Market. “COVID-19 surge planning means our timeline for consolidating Kingsport women’s services at Indian Path Community Hospital must be accelerated to ensure we can meet the needs of patients who may suffer from COVID-19 while we consider the unique needs of moms and babies. Ballad Health plans to invest at IPCH to ensure a world class experience for mothers and babies at Indian Path Community Hospital and will continue to serve the current children’s population which can be treated locally. We also benefit from being part of a larger system of care for children made possible by the Niswonger Children’s Health system of care.”

Some immediate minor facilities and equipment adjustments will be made to prepare for the consolidation, and once the immediate threat of COVID-19 surge has passed, Indian Path will embark on a phased renovation and cosmetic update plan to create an ideal care environment for women and newborns.

The number of births in the region have declined, a phenomenon seen nationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there has been a national decrease in birth rates, with birth rates in 2018 being the lowest in 32 years – following four years of consecutive decline. Health system and community leaders agree that a focused women’s and newborn center makes sense, and that the volumes at a consolidated center will lead to better specialization of staff and clinical providers who can focus their expertise on providing the highest quality of care in a facility that will be among the highest volume in the region once consolidated. Dr. Grover May, an OB/Gyn with State of Franklin Healthcare Associates, believes “this is an exciting move for our region that will improve the quality and access to care for the residents of the Kingsport area.” The women’s center will provide not only obstetric care, but also comprehensive breast and cervical care, geriatric services and gynecology services, including urogynecology. This specialization will create convenience for patients and improve quality of care by building strong teams of specially trained caregivers.

The move of acuity adjusted services, including ICU, from Indian Path to Holston Valley is expected to take place on April 15. Consolidation of labor and delivery services to Indian Path is anticipated April 22. Emergency Departments at both hospitals will remain open, and Ballad Health will continue to operate drive-thru COVID-19 testing at Indian Path. Patients requiring inpatient treatment for COVID-19, including high acuity cases, will be admitted to Holston Valley.

Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 are advised to call 833-822-5523. 

For additional information regarding Ballad Health’s COVID-19 efforts, please visit our COVID-19 page.

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