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Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Niswonger Children’s Network to host annual Radiothon

Network expands partnerships to include hospital services, regional clinics and childcare centers

The Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network will take community members across the Appalachian Highlands for its annual Radiothon, to be held Thursday, Feb. 29, and Friday, March 1.

Now in its 12th year, the Niswonger Children’s Network Radiothon brings the community together to support the children’s network, its programs and its patients. The radiothon is the network’s largest annual fundraiser, and to date, it has raised more than $4 million for local babies, children, teenagers and their families.

The 2024 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon will support the continued enhancement of network offerings and services, including the expansion of Niswonger Children’s Hospital’s main campus, new subspecialty care and children’s network partners across the region.

“Since the creation of Ballad Health, Niswonger Children’s Hospital has become more than a building – it’s the epicenter of healthcare for local children, and to that end, the Niswonger Children’s Network has become the encompassing system of care for children and their families throughout the entire region,” said Chris Jett, CEO of the Niswonger Children’s Network. “As we look to the future of healthcare in the Appalachian Highlands, we have an especially strong focus on the health and well-being of the next generation, and the support our community shows during the Niswonger Children’s Network Radiothon will help us further that care and build an even stronger foundation for local children and families.”

Niswonger Children’s Network unveils partnership program to enhance pediatric care in Appalachian Highlands

Last year, the Niswonger Children’s Network launched a partnership program recognizing practices and facilities that are providing the best pediatric care across the region. Partnerships can include independent practitioners or community-based organizations that are focused on the well-being of children in the Appalachian Highlands.

“We want to assure families they’re getting the best pediatric care possible, and these partnerships help families make informed decisions, so every child receives the support they need, medical or otherwise, when they need it,” Jett said. “This partnership program will have a community-wide benefit by helping one family at a time, and it enables families to identify pediatric clinicians and organizations that meet the network’s high standards of pediatric care.”

Greeneville Community Hospital Family Birth Center

Greeneville Community Hospital’s Family Birth Center’s outstanding quality metrics helped earn its spot as the first family birthing center to become a Niswonger Children’s Network partner. The center’s quality metrics – including C-section and breastfeeding rates – along with positive patient outcomes and clinical practices are consistently the highest across Ballad Health.

In addition to a high-performing clinical team, the 12-bed unit was recently renovated to include spacious birthing suites complete with birthing tubs, providing a comfortable and soothing environment for mothers. Families who deliver at Greeneville Community Hospital also have access to the Strong Starts program, which provides a wide range of support and care for expecting parents until their children are kindergarten ready.

Indian Path Community Hospital Family Birth Center

In November 2023, Ballad Health completed the first phase of construction on its renovation of the Barbara Humphreys Family Birth Center at Indian Path Community Hospital. The first phase of the project involved constructing nine labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms; two triage rooms; an updated nursery and a nursing station.

The $8 million project includes renovating the interior of the birthing center and upgrading it with modern aesthetics to provide more space and a better care environment for team members, patients and families. Once completed, the renovation work will also lead to improved patient flows and more efficient care.

Once Phase II is completed, which is projected in spring 2024, the lobby will undergo renovations as well. The lobby will be named in honor of Eastman Credit Union, which contributed $1 million in 2021 to support projects in the Niswonger Children’s Network.

Strong Starts

The Ballad Health Strong Starts program takes a unique approach to maternity care, early childhood development and family support, the first of its kind in the country. The initiative includes an assessment for every pregnancy to identify children at risk for early childhood trauma before they’re born by connecting their mothers and families to community-based support networks.

Pediatric therapy

Ballad Health’s pediatric therapy services work with children of all ages to improve the quality of everyday life, promoting confidence and independence. The teams, including physical and occupational therapists and speech language pathologists, work with families to develop individualized therapy programs that optimize development and address rehabilitation needs for children with developmental delays, specialized needs or critical illnesses.

Pediatric therapy locations affiliated with the Niswonger Children’s Network are located at Bristol Regional Medical Center, Greeneville Community Hospital, Indian Path Community Hospital, Johnston Memorial Hospital, Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Niswonger Children’s Therapy Services.

Centers for Early Learning

In 2022, Ballad Health announced it would invest $30 million to expand its existing childcare centers and open up to 11 new facilities throughout the Appalachian Highlands.

The health system is now offering three new centers in Greeneville, Johnson City and Lebanon, Virginia, joining existing centers in Elizabethton and Bristol and an additional center in Johnson City. As part of the Niswonger Children’s Network, all Ballad Health Centers for Early Learning focus on play-based, evidence-backed curriculum that gives babies and children the foundations to go into elementary school kindergarten-ready, which prepares them for a life of stronger educational and career achievement.

“In less than five years, the Niswonger Children’s Network has already branched out further into the region, and we’re thrilled to see where our partnerships will take us in the next five years,” Jett said.

“We’re extending our partnership to any clinician or organization that wishes to participate. Quality healthcare happens when we can collaborate and when we have a cohesive plan for the children we serve.”

Continued philanthropic support

In 2022 and 2023, Radiothon funds supported Ballad Health’s Hope Rising fundraising campaign to add a two-story vertical expansion to Niswonger Children’s Hospital and support the expansion of children’s network resources across the region.

“From the outset, we knew such a tremendous undertaking for our region was only possible with community support – and every step of the way, our friends, families, neighbors and supporters have turned out in force,” said Jack Simpson, president of Ballad Health Foundation. “Niswonger Children’s Hospital was founded through the generosity and vision of the community, and it’s that continued spirit, focused on making life better in our region, that propels us forward and helps us raise the bar for children’s healthcare in our region. Children’s hospitals nationwide depend upon ongoing community financial support to meet their goals.

“Any gift – big or small – is an investment in the future of the Appalachian Highlands.”

The first phase of construction is currently underway and consists of the conversion of an attached medical office building to a new institute – the J.D. Nicewonder Family Perinatal and Pediatric Institute. The pediatric institute will create a regionwide opportunity to serve children with complex medical needs through more coordinated care between multiple specialists, while also creating a clearinghouse for public educational service and participation in research and training.

The next renovation phase will create a new, two-floor vertical expansion, stacked atop the existing hospital. The additional floors will house another element of the pediatric institute: a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit. With that renovation, Niswonger Children’s Hospital will include the newest NICU in both Tennessee and Virginia.

The Niswonger Children’s Network Radiothon will be broadcast live on four of Holston Valley Broadcasting Corporation’s radio stations (98.5 WTFM, 95.9 The Hog WRZK, Classic Hits 102.7 WVEK, and ESPN Tri-Cities) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. News Channel 11 anchors will also broadcast live from the event in the children’s hospital lobby.

Phone bank teams made up of volunteers will be set up in the lobby of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, and they will receive and make calls for donations during the radiothon – interested donors can call 855-611-KIDS (5437) to make their pledges, beginning on Feb. 29. Donations can also be accepted at any time by visiting or texting KITE to 51555.

For more information about the 2024 Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon, or to volunteer for the event, please visit or email