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Thursday, Mar 3, 2022

Ballad Health announces $30 million campaign, plans state-of-the-art expansion to Niswonger Children's Hospital

The Johnson City skyline soon will include three new floors rising from the existing roof of Niswonger Children’s Hospital, but the impact of the services offered in those new floors will benefit children and their families throughout the Appalachian Highlands for generations to come.

“Hope Rising,” a capital campaign to raise $30 million to expand and enhance facilities and services for children and families, was announced Thursday, March 3 at the 2022 Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon. More than $18 million has already been committed toward the $30 million goal.

The J.D. Nicewonder family’s 2021 commitment of $7 million kicked off the silent phase of the campaign and is the second largest donation in the children’s hospital’s history. Eastman Credit Union then pledged a major gift of $1 million later that year.

Scott Niswonger of Greeneville, Tennessee, the Children’s Hospital’s founding donor, helped inaugurate the campaign’s public phase which begins March 3, with a major gift of $1 million as a reminder to the people in the region to continue to support the hospital.

The new vertical expansion stacked atop the existing hospital will provide space for a Regional Center for Perinatal and Neonatal Care and a Regional Center for Pediatric Specialties, among other services.

The Regional Center for Neonatal Care will include the newest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in both Tennessee and Virginia. With a family-friendly approach, the Center will offer private spaces for parents and siblings while giving parents the ability to stay continuously with their baby.

Children with complex illnesses will be able to experience more convenient coordinated care between multiple physician specialists housed at the Regional Center for Pediatric Specialties. The environment will make it easier for specialists to collaborate and ease the stress and time required for parents to shuttle children to various locations for medical appointments. This advanced facility will also work as a recruiting tool to attract the best pediatric specialists to Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

“Ballad Health continues to grow as a regional resource for families and children, and we took an enormous leap toward improving healthcare for children and families of the Appalachian Highlands with the launch of the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network last year,” said Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine. “This new expansion brings together world-class healthcare with our signature focus on healing for the patient, the parents, the family and the community.”

Specialized pediatric care offers a chance to improve health outcomes for children now, as well as to impact the overall health of the Appalachian Highlands population for years to come, according to Scott Niswonger, whose pacesetting gift more than a decade ago enabled the construction of Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

“Healthcare plays a pivotal role in ensuring every resident has a happy, prosperous life,” Niswonger said. “The health and education of our youth builds economic vitality; each is necessary for the other.”

Last year, radiothon gifts benefited the launch of the Niswonger Children’s Network, which enables Ballad Health to take healthcare outside the hospital walls and into the region, especially to more rural areas. This new expansion, a focus of the Hope Rising capital campaign, will add new layers to Ballad Health’s commitment to become a national model for rural healthcare.

In addition to the hospital expansion, the Hope Rising campaign funds will enable other initiatives like the Pediatric Emergency Department and the Center for Women and Babies at Indian Path Community Hospital in Kingsport as well as sustain funding a Children’s Resource Center in Abingdon, Virginia, telehealth services and the Child Life therapy program.

In Greeneville, the groundbreaking Strong Futures program opened last year as part of the Niswonger Children’s Network and has served over 800 women and family members in the first year. Operating in the former Takoma Regional Hospital, the Strong Futures program serves and transforms the lives of women who are struggling from substance abuse disorder and their children. The Hope Rising campaign will provide continued support of the Strong Futures program, helping to improve the lives of families in the region.

“We are reaching forward to meet families where they are,” said Lisa Carter, who oversees Niswonger Children’s Hospital in addition to serving as president of Ballad Health’s Southern Market. “We want the more than one million people in our region to know that we’re committed to providing comprehensive services and programs to improve healthcare and tackle problems that threaten the future of families and children.”

Effort applauded by Governors of Tennessee and Virginia

Today’s announcement drew praise from the highest levels of Tennessee and Virginia government.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee:

As Governor of Tennessee, I am committed to investing in our state’s rural communities and strengthening Tennessee families. Today, we celebrate and support Ballad Health’s plans to expand Niswonger Children’s Hospital, which will bring care to the youngest Tennesseans in the region. The launch of the public phase of the $30 million dollar capital campaign announced today by Ballad Health, paired with the generous contribution of $7 million dollars from the J.D. Nicewonder family last year, amounts to tens of millions of dollars that will provide important support for mothers, children in need and high-risk newborns in our state. These efforts speak to the work of the Ballad Health team, the special nature of Niswonger Children’s Hospital and the Niswonger Children’s Network. As we continue to serve the region’s most vulnerable, I encourage you to do the same by taking the opportunity to invest in Tennessee’s children.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin:

As governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I am always looking at new ways to support our rural communities and to strengthen Virginia families. This comprehensive children’s health capital campaign will accomplish that by addressing the pressing needs of children in this region and improving the way families living in Southwest Virginia receive care both inside and outside of the hospital environment. This fundraising effort is important because it directly supports children and families in our rural Southwest Virginia counties. I'm enthusiastic about this program and the benefits it will give to Southwest Virginia.

In 2021 alone, Niswonger Children’s Hospital served more than 18,000 children from 29 counties and four states.

“Ballad Health treats patients with dignity and compassionate care, regardless of their ability to pay,” said Jack Simpson, president, Ballad Health Foundation. “The generous support we receive from individuals and businesses throughout the Appalachian Highlands helps to make this possible. This is particularly the case at Niswonger Children’s Network where we reach outside the walls of the hospital to support children and families during their most vulnerable times, even before they require hospital care.”

All gifts given during the radiothon will be applied to the Hope Rising campaign, which is the first major support initiative since the formation of Ballad Health and the second in support of Niswonger Children’s Hospital. The original campaign, prior to its 2009 opening, brought the community together to raise $25 million for the building of Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

View high-res renderings of the expansion here.

Footage of the capital campaign announcement can be found on Ballad Health's Youtube channel.