Ballad Health CEO explains COVID-19 testing process

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine says testing for COVID-19 is now underway in the Tri-Cities, but only for those who need to be tested as determined by a medical professional.

Levine said the health system’s call center is a critical part of the process.

“Our team has done a great job of creating a process so people can be appropriately screened,” Levine said.

Wednesday, Ballad Health said more than 3,000 people have called the hotline. A surge in calls led to long wait times, so additional staff and phone lines are being added.

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Levine said nurses and doctors screen patients using an algorithm and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control. People who need to be tested are then referred to the facility that is the most convenient for them.

Ballad has 20 sites across its network ready to administer tests. A dozen are drive-thru facilities. All sites require appointments.

Levine said that out of 3,000 hotline calls, only 30 people have been referred for testing. None have tested positive for COVID-19.

The screening process is to avoid a supply shortage due to unnecessary testing.

“The most appropriate thing to do is to target those who have been exposed or have been at risk of exposure,” Levine said. “Test them. Isolate them. And if it’s negative, great. If it’s positive, you isolate them or treat them in an isolated environment.”

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