JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health has three patients in its facilities receiving treatment for the coronavirus. Meanwhile, the health system continues to stress the importance of COVID-19 safety as the region reopens.
During a Thursday media briefing, Ballad Health Director of Infectious Disease and Prevention Jamie Swift continued to stress the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask while out in public.
“Your mask protects me and my mask protects you, so that’s truly one of the best things we can do,” said Swift. “I know it’s not always convenient, but it is truly necessary as you are out.”
Swift said as businesses in the region reopen and travel restrictions lift, Ballad has worked five cases that have been travel-related.
Ballad Health also discussed the lifting of some visitor restrictions.
Among those, the health system will now allow one visitor per non-coronavirus patient during visiting hours. Patients positive for COVID-19 are restricted from having visitors.
Two parents or guardians will be permitted in the NICU and PICU and in rooms with a pediatric patient.
In addition, four visitors may be present for those in hospice, comfort care or critical care.
Ballad leadership says this could change with a possible second spread of the virus in the fall.
“I think there’s a possibility it could happen,” said Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton. “Until we have a vaccine available to us, we still have active disease out there and it’s still going to spread so we have to be prepared for that.”
All visitors will need to schedule their arrival ahead of time. They will also be screened and required to wear a cloth mask.
Deaton also said Ballad is catching up on deferred elective procedures.
“Elective procedures, all of our procedures are really back up to speed now,” he said. “I think at all of our facilities, we’re probably running around 80 to 100 percent of our previous volume.”
Chief Physician Executive Dr. Clay Runnels also said Ballad is continuing to evaluate the reopening of urgent care facilities.
“We do have a plan, I believe, this next week to try and open the Elizabethton urgent care and the others we’ll be assessing for dates for reopening in the future,” said Dr. Runnels.
Ballad also continues to emphasize the safety of their facilities, urging patients to get care if you need it.
“The message today is two-fold, one is don’t pass up routine care which can lead to serious illness and, also very importantly, don’t put off emergent care because of serious symptoms that you are having and you are safe with us.” said Runnels.