Monday, Jun 13, 2022

First phase of construction begins on Niswonger Children's Hospital expansion

The Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network has started to “Raise the Roof” on Niswonger Children’s Hospital, kicking off the first phase of a construction project that will enhance services for children and families across the Appalachian Highlands.

“Ballad Health made a promise to invest in our region’s children – our region’s future – through the creation of the Niswonger Children’s Network,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “Already, the services this network is providing are changing lives.

“With this expansion, we’re adding new services and capacity, with a goal of improving health outcomes and well-being for children and families. Furthermore, this investment in our children’s hospital demonstrates that our region is the right place for families and businesses to thrive.”

The first phase of construction consists of the conversion of an attached medical office building to a new institute – the J.D. Nicewonder Family Perinatal and Pediatric Institute. Similar to the establishment of the Ballad Health CVA Heart Institute – which integrates world-class cardiology clinical services, research and training – the newly-established J.D. Nicewonder Family Perinatal and 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.

“Children need healthy starts to grow into healthy adults, and offering more resources for high-quality healthcare services gives them an enormous leap forward,” said Lisa Carter, president of Ballad Health’s Southern Region and chief executive officer of the Niswonger Children’s Network.

“Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders, and they deserve access to the best healthcare and programs we can offer. We’re committed to providing comprehensive services that improve overall health, as well as tackling problems that threaten the future of families and children.”

Following the initial phase of construction, 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 J.D. Nicewonder Family Perinatal and Pediatric Institute: a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit.

With that renovation, Niswonger Children’s Hospital will host the newest NICU in both Tennessee and Virginia. With a family-friendly approach, the new NICU will offer private spaces for parents and siblings and give parents the ability to stay continuously with their babies.

Construction and expansion of Niswonger Children’s Hospital is largely funded by the Hope Rising philanthropy campaign, which is raising $30 million, anchored by a pace-setting gift of $7 million from the J.D. Nicewonder family. The Nicewonder family, from Bristol, Virginia, has provided the second-largest single investment into the children’s hospital since its inception in 2009.

"The J.D. Nicewonder family has for many years supported Ballad Health Foundation initiatives because we so highly value the efforts to improve healthcare in this area that we call home,” the family said. “We were immediately impressed with the ambitious plans to expand Niswonger Children's Hospital and are very excited to be able to contribute to this project.

“The J.D. Nicewonder Family Perinatal and Pediatric Institute is exactly the kind of life-saving and life-improving program our family is dedicated to supporting. We would like to urge all residents of this region to support this wonderful hospital in any way possible."

J.D. Nicewonder, Alan Levine, Lisa Carter and Scott Niswonger pose for photo with hammers to mark first phase of construction

Alan Levine, J.D. Nicewonder, Lisa Carter and Scott Niswonger marking the first phase of construction

The Nicewonder family announced their commitment when Ballad Health launched the Niswonger Children’s Network in March 2021. It is the first major gift they’ve made in the health system outside of Bristol, because of their belief in the strength of the Ballad Health vision for regional economic and family health.

“The influence of the Niswonger Children’s Network reaches outside the walls of the hospital to support children and families during their most vulnerable times, even before they require hospital care,” said Jack Simpson, president of Ballad Health Foundation. “We’re very grateful and humbled that, similarly, our donors recognize the need to champion causes and initiatives throughout the Appalachian Highlands.

“The Nicewonder family has stepped forward in a truly inspiring way to benefit children and families throughout the region. Their generosity will reverberate for generations to come – truly affecting a lasting change.”

The Niswonger Children’s Network represents 21 counties across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, with a secondary service area encompassing an additional six counties in Western North Carolina and two counties in Southeastern Kentucky. In 2021 alone, Niswonger Children’s Hospital served children from 32 states and 174 counties.

In addition to the hospital expansion, Hope Rising funds will enable other initiatives, such as the pediatric emergency department and the Center for Women and Babies at Indian Path Community Hospital in Kingsport, and will also sustain funding a Children’s Resource Center in Abingdon, Virginia, bolster telehealth services in rural communities and supplement the Niswonger Children’s Network child life therapy program.

Donations to the Hope Rising campaign are still being accepted on Ballad Health’s website. Support the work of the Niswonger Children’s Network by donating online.

Read more information about the Hope Rising campaign and the expansion of Niswonger Children’s Hospital.