The announcement comes the same week as Ballad Health announced the creation of a new operating division – Ballad Behavioral Health Services. Led by veteran nurse and executive leader, Patricia Baise, Ballad Behavioral Health Services will begin a process of collaborating with local, state and national experts, law enforcement, EMS and community organizations to help in the design of the programs and repurposing of Greeneville Community Hospital West Campus.
To begin planning for implementation, and because local physicians and emergency medical services leaders have advised it would be best for patient care, all emergency services will be integrated at Greeneville Community Hospital East Campus effective Sept. 1, 2019. These services will join acute care and surgical services, which were integrated in April of this year.
“Since before our recent merger, we have said that eliminating duplicative services will create the capacity we need to bring new services to our region and our communities,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Alan Levine. “This investment will create much-needed new services for women who are pregnant and in need of treatment designed to give their children a strong start, and it is only possible because we now have the capacity at Greeneville Community Hospital West. This capacity will create access for other critical services and will also create new jobs in Greeneville."
Dr. Mark Patterson, the newly named president of Ballad Health Medical Associates, has served as a surgeon and chief medical officer in Greeneville since 1995. Patterson hailed this announcement as “an incredibly important opportunity to fill a gap for women in desperate need of help,” adding, “It is important we get on with the essential business of aligning medical services in our community between our two campuses so we can begin planning the implementation of this and other new programs greatly needed in the region. The medical staff and EMS leadership strongly support the integration of emergency services at our East Campus, as it will ensure the highest level of quality through higher volumes. We all look forward to this step being completed and commencing the next phase for expansion of services in Greene County.”
“As a nurse, I know how desperate we are locally for expanded access to behavioral health services,” said Baise. “Ballad Behavioral Health Services was established for the purpose of creating innovative solutions and expanding partnerships with local providers to bring help to those who need it. We look forward to working with experts and local leadership to establish what could be a model program for women in need.”
“Recently, I had the opportunity to visit an amazing residential rehabilitation program near Dandridge, Tennessee, started by circuit court judge Duane Slone. In his court every day, the judge recognized that too many young lives are ruined due to the lack of behavioral health services and other supports that could help young moms suffering with addiction give their children a strong start,” said Levine. “Visiting with the women being served here, I asked what would have happened in their lives had this residential facility not been available. The answers were sobering. Many predicted they or their babies would have died, or their babies would have been born ill. Many feared prison, separated from the children they love.
“We know this is happening every day throughout our region, and Ballad Health is determined to be a part of the solution. The resources and capacity we have at Greeneville Community Hospital West far surpasses what I saw, and when we combine our medical and behavioral health resources, with the capability of our community partners, this project could become a model for others to follow.”
By integrating services in the two Greenville hospitals, which each had an occupancy of less than 30 percent and more than $70 million in operating losses over the previous five years, Ballad Health can utilize the reclaimed capacity to bring new services, while also strengthening the community’s acute care hospital services. With higher volumes located at one facility and better efficiency, quality will be sustained and healthcare costs will decrease. Additionally, by providing needed new services to women who are pregnant and in serious need of behavioral health and other treatment services, healthcare costs and other costs to society will be reduced over time, as children are born healthy and are given a strong start the evidence shows they likely would not have had.
With this announcement, Ballad Health is beginning a process of assertive communications in the Greeneville community to ensure widespread knowledge of the move of emergency services to Greeneville Community Hospital East. Ballad Behavioral Health Services has also begun assembling the team with responsibility for implementing the residential addiction treatment program for pregnant women. As those plans are formalized, Ballad Health will keep the community informed though regular communications and community meetings.