Ballad Health officials introduce consolidation plans for Greeneville Community Hospital’s cardiology program

Local Coronavirus Coverage

Greeneville Community Hospital to receive leading diagnostic technology

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Cardiovascular services will be shifting at Greeneville Community Hospital, sending patients to Johnson City and Kingsport for interventional procedures, Ballad Health officials announced Tuesday.

Ballad CEO and President Alan Levine outlined the plans in a press conference, saying they will integrate Greeneville patients into Ballad’s regional cardiovascular network.

Patients of the program will now go to Johnson City Medical Center or Holston Valley Medical Center for interventional procedures, where Levine said patients have access to specialists not currently available at the Greeneville hospital.

Patients having a heart attack will receive immediate transport to one of the region’s tertiary hospitals, where Levine said waiting times for treatment are lower than they are at the Greeneville Center.

He said plans for the change began several months ago, due to the dwindling number of elective procedures performed in the program. For comparison, he said Greeneville’s cath lab processed about 44 elective procedures per month to Johnson City’s 600 per month.

While Levine said the hospital’s cath lab would no longer be available, he also announced that Greeneville Community Hospital will be receiving upgrades to diagnostic equipment.

The technology, he said, can detect cardiovascular problems in patients before they have a coronary event.

The technology, CT Angiography (CTA) is one of the first of its kind in the region, added.

According to a press release from Ballad, limited staffing at Greeneville Community Hospital resulted in canceled or rescheduled cardiac procedures when team members needed to take paid time off, which isn’t a problem at the health system’s tertiary hospitals.

In other news, Levine announced the formation of a recovery team to help transitions when restrictions around elective procedures are lifted.

The goal of the team, he continued, is to inform operational decisions down the line and what it looks like from a “budgetary perspective.”

Levine estimated that the health system will lose tens of millions of dollars by the end of the fiscal year. Right now, he said Ballad is losing about $2 million per day.

While money from federal stimulus packages and cash advances will help buoy Ballad’s finances, Levine acknowledged that the health system is only seeing the beginning of what he called “grim financial results.”

Since there’s about a 45-60 day lag between the day a service is billed and insurance companies’ payout of that service, he said Ballad won’t be feeling the financial blow of halted elective procedures until next week.

Levine said to expect an announcement on Thursday on some COVID-19 researched headed by Ballad Health physicians.

He called the research “cutting-edge” that will “hopefully get (Ballad Health) involved in a national dialogue.”

You can watch the entire news briefing on our WJHL Facebook page below.

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