Stan Hickson, president of Ballad Health’s Southwest Market, said the renovations will occur in two phases. The first will improve the outside of the facility.
Previously, the hospital had 40 patient parking spaces adjacent to the emergency room. By converting space occupied by two temporary helipads, Hickson said the hospital will be able to more than double the number of parking spots available to patients, bringing it to 95. Physician parking has been relocated.
“Our patients and their families should get prime access right next to the building when their loved one is needing ER care,” Hickson said.
Hickson said the hospital is expanding to two helipads.
A secondary entrance for emergency medical vehicles will also be created, making it easier for them to access the hospital’s emergency room from State of Franklin Road.
In the spring, the system will start performing work on the inside of the emergency room, expanding some of its larger treatment rooms to increase overall capacity to care for high-acuity patients. Hickson said the system currently has two trauma/resuscitation bays, a number that will increase as a result of the renovations. Those bays will have the resources to care for severe trauma cases and high-intensity patients like stroke victims, whose care can require significant manpower.
Weather-pending, Ballad Health hopes to complete the facility’s exterior renovations in late March or early April. To minimize the impact on patients, the system plans to start work on the emergency room once outside renovations near completion.
The hospital is currently offering free valet parking for patients visiting the emergency room.
Hickson said the construction project is partially motived by the consolidation of Level 1 trauma services to Johnson City Medical Center, but he noted the system also wants to expand health care access to all its patients, particularly high-acuity ones.
“We’re the hub,” Hickson said. “We want to take care of the sickest of the sick. That’s what we’re trained to do and in line to do, and that requires more intensive resources, so being able to expand our capacity in that component is vital.”
Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton said the renovations are also driven by a desire to maintain a high level of efficiency in the center’s emergency department.
“Their throughput has been very, very good, and so we want to be able to maintain that in case we did see additional patients coming in,” he said.
Although the Johnson City Medical Center is now the designated Level 1 trauma center for the region, Deaton said the system is still seeing high-level trauma cases at its centers in Bristol and Kingsport and has the capacity to treat those cases in all three locations.
Holston Valley Medical Center transitioned from a Level 1 trauma center to Level 3 on Oct. 1. Bristol Regional Medical Center is expected to transition from a Level 2 to Level 3 trauma center in 2021.