Ballad restricts visitation, suspends non-emergency surgeries during pandemic

Johnson City Press • Updated Mar 20, 2020 at 8:26 PM

JOHNSON CITY — With four positive cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in its service area, two in Washington County, and one each in Sullivan and Greene counties, Ballad Health has enacted extra safety precautions at its facilities to contain the spread.

Starting Saturday, no visitors will be allowed at hospitals, long-term care facilities and behavioral health centers, except at labor and delivery units, which will allow one visitor per room, and the neonatal intensive care unit at Niswonger Children’s Hospital and rooms with pediatric patients, which will allow two visitors if they are parents or guardians.

No visitors younger than 18 will be allowed in Ballad facilities.

The health care system will also suspend all non-emergency surgeries to free up ventilators, staff and medical supplies that may be needed to treat COVID-19 patients.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, acting on a request from President Donald Trump, asked health care providers Thursday to suspend unnecessary surgeries to make sure resources are available.

“We understand this might be disruptive, but we concur with the reasoning behind the recommendation and believe it is appropriate at this time,” said Clay Runnels, MD, executive vice president and chief physician executive for Ballad Health. “Our decision to postpone non-emergent cases will free up healthcare workers, medical supplies and ventilators, so we are fully prepared to care for any high-risk COVID-19 patients.”

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