Ballad Health asks public to only visit ERs for ‘life- or limb-threatening’ emergencies, not COVID tests

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health is asking members of the public who believe they are experiencing a “life-or limb-threatening emergency” to call 911 or visit an emergency room. However, anyone in need of a COVID-19 test should not visit the ER.

A release from Ballad Health states that any person with an emergency who visits the ER will be “triaged immediately by qualified providers.” A medical screening exam will be conducted to determine if people are experiencing a qualifying emergency.

“If it is determined the individual does not have a life- or limb-threatening emergency, it is highly likely the wait times to be treated will be significant, as the emergency physicians and clinical team prioritize those with the most severe needs,” the release states. “ERs are not first-come-first-served, but rather, patients are prioritized based on medical necessity as determined by qualified physicians and providers.”

Ballad Health encourages anyone with an urgent medical need to use the Ballad Health Virtual Urgent Care Clinic or visit one of the health system’s 12 urgent care centers.

Anyone wishing to be tested for COVID-19 who is not exhibiting symptoms is asked to use one of Ballad’s six drive-thru testing locations or visit an urgent care center. Testing is also available at various pharmacies, health departments and other institutions. Testing locations can be found by clicking here.

“Ballad Health strongly advises against using emergency departments for COVID-19 testing and warns the use of ERs for testing will not lead to a faster result. Moreover, Ballad Health encourages everyone to seek the appropriate level of care for their health needs. Emergency departments should be reserved for life- and limb-threatening situations, such as chest pain, severe injuries, difficulty breathing and stroke symptoms. People seeking care for non-emergent or routine healthcare needs could lead to the diversion of critical staffing from other patients who have serious healthcare emergencies requiring attention.”

Ballad Health

Ballad Health announced Tuesday that it had once again broken its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 403 inpatients.

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