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Ballad Health plans to open new urgent care centers as part of initiative to increase access, expand network

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Ballad Health plans to open new urgent care centers as part of initiative to increase access, expand network

As it continues investing in the expansion of access to healthcare, Ballad Health today announced plans to add two new urgent care centers to the family of Ballad Health providers in the Appalachian Highlands.

Ballad Health will invest in the opening of a new Ballad Health Medical Associates urgent care center, including the addition of primary care and diagnostics, in Kingsport, as well as a new urgent care center in Banner Elk, North Carolina.

While the health system’s hospitals and outpatient services in Tennessee and Virginia currently serve patients from Ashe, Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga and Yancey counties in North Carolina, the opening of the Banner Elk urgent care center would be Ballad Health’s first service location in the Tarheel State.

“While many rural communities continue to experience the loss of access due to hospital closures and flight from rural regions, Ballad Health is investing in the region surrounding our tertiary referral hospitals,” said Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine. “This investment is in addition to the nearly 200 new providers Ballad Health has recruited to the Appalachian Highlands region.”

“Ballad Health has been focused on reducing the cost of healthcare, and one way we are doing this is by promoting alternatives to expensive emergency room care and ensuring there is access, so patients do not have to travel too far to receive care,” said Dr. Mark Patterson, president of Ballad Health Medical Associates. “We want to be more proactive in preventing simple illnesses from compounding into serious ailments that require emergency treatment.”

The Kingsport clinic will offer primary, urgent and diagnostic care services. Subject to final closing on a site in the West Park development at the corner of West Stone Drive and Netherland Inn Road, near the Allandale community, Ballad Health will commence construction on a new facility with the expectation of the facility being open by early 2021.

In Banner Elk, North Carolina, Ballad Health was invited by the community to open an urgent care center, where access to care is not always available nearby. More details on the Banner Elk location will be announced in the coming months before its planned opening this summer.

In October 2019, Ballad Health opened another new Ballad Health Medical Associates Urgent Care in rural Lee County, Virginia. The 1,239 square-foot facility is currently providing area residents with access to care while Ballad Health works to reopen the Lee County Community Hospital in the fall of 2020.

The opening of urgent care centers is just one facet of Ballad Health’s efforts to expand access to care. Last year, the health system provided the necessary resources to recruit nearly 200 new providers to the Appalachian Highlands, some of whom were recruited to private practices not owned by Ballad Health.

The health system also sponsored more than 250 medical residents during the 2019 fiscal year, including 59 residents in rural Virginia. Ballad Health subsidizes the cost of many medical residencies.

In addition to those steps, since 2016, Ballad Health has expanded access to nursing resources through expanded education and training programs at Northeast State Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College, Mountain Empire Community College and East Tennessee State University.