Ballad Health is increasing its capacity to treat COVID-19 patients while permanently shifting all labor and delivery services to one Kingsport hospital.
Ballad’s Market President Lindy White on Monday announced plans for a dedicated facility for women and newborns at Indian Path Community Hospital. Moving those services out of Holston Valley Medical Center gives the health system about 40 additional beds to treat coronavirus patients, should that need arise.
Holston Valley is one of Ballad’s three tertiary care hospitals, along with Bristol Regional Medical Center and Johnson City Medical Center, which serve Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
Plans for a dedicated women’s center had been on the drawing board for some time but were advanced due to public health concerns, White said.
“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,” White said during a news briefing. “Ballad Health plans to invest at Indian Path 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.”
In response to a question, White said moving those services out of Holston Valley was not intended specifically to separate newborns from COVID-19 patients.
“Up until this time, we had two facilities in this city well equipped to care for COVID-19 prospective and positive patients. Our teams are very well prepared to protect, isolate and utilize appropriate PPE [personal protection equipment] to make sure other patients and babies are kept safe,” White said. “This is really in the spirit more of being able to utilize the space we’re going to vacate for further expansion of COVID care at Holston Valley and less about separating our moms and babies. It’s more about creating capacity.”
Ballad announced last week it had identified 313 beds specifically for treating COVID-19 patients plus 56 overflow beds available at Greeneville Community Hospital West and 17 beds at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City, reserved for patients under the age of 20.
As of Monday afternoon, Ballad was treating 15 COVID-19 patients at its facilities.
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing will continue at Indian Path. Patients requiring inpatient treatment for COVID-19, including high acuity cases, will be admitted to Holston Valley.
Holston Valley will stop providing services for women and newborns, and all labor and delivery services are scheduled to shift to Indian Path on April 22.
In addition, Indian Path will stop admitting medical and surgical patients at 12:01 a.m. April 15 to allow them to “shift focus to the new center for women and newborns,” White said. It will also mean ICU patients that might have gone to Indian Path will be sent to Holston Valley.
“Both hospitals will have full-service ERs; women’s and children’s [services] will be at Indian Path; and all medical/surgical [services] and our centers of excellence — heart, stroke, orthopedics, neurological and trauma — will remain at Holston Valley,” White said.
White said there are no current plans to rename the two Kingsport hospitals — as Ballad did with its Greeneville, Tennessee, facilities — but didn’t rule it out.
Individuals who are experiencing symptoms and believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 are advised to call 833-822-5523.
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