Ballad Health: Plans for re-implementing elective procedures to be sent to Governor Lee Thursday

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee’s Economic Recovery Group will make its final recommendation on the return of non-emergency procedures to Governor Bill Lee Thursday.

Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton said Ballad Health hopes to have its plan complete by next week on how it will start elective surgeries at its facilities.

You can watch that full press conference below:

Deaton said Ballad is using guiding factors issued by the the American College of Surgeons, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the American Hospital Association and other national health care groups to formulate its plan.

It includes looking at the timing of opening, whether the hospitals have adequate staff, equipment and facilities, limiting hospital entrances and contact screening for patients and visitors, plus a policy for COVID-19 testing for patients and staff.

“Part of our plan would be if you are being set up for surgery, our plan would look at testing the patient for COVID-19 prior to surgery,” said Deaton.

He adds that Ballad Health will have a committee to determine case prioritization and scheduling of procedures.

Deaton said the estimated backlog of non-emergency procedures to be in the thousands.

Currently, Ballad has 13 patients with COVID-19 receiving care in its facilities, with 300 beds available in its COVID-19 dedicated units. Deaton believes the hospital has the necessary personal protective equipment to care for those patients, as well as a potential surge in patients due to increased coronavirus cases and the re-implementation of non-emergency surgeries.

Deaton also said they will soon bring back furloughed employees using a phased approach. He said Ballad will especially focus on those that would support non-emergency type procedures. They will be called back as needed.

“As we start to ramp that up, will obviously need the staff to support that,” he said, “so we will be calling on the team members that we’re doing a lot of that work before and also some of the support teams that help those team members.”

Deaton said so far, around six patients have received convalescent plasma treatment, but did not have an update on those patients’ condition. He said Ballad has received plasma from a number of donors.

Ballad is also currently evaluating the ability to provide anti-body testing for the region. Deaton expects more information in the coming days.

The health care system is also still concerned that people are avoiding going to the hospital to receive care during the COVID-19 pandemic. They urge those who need treatment to seek help immediately and make use of Ballad’s telemedicine services.

“If you or a loved one are experiencing life threatening symptoms,” said Deaton, “please don’t hesitate to dial 911 and make sure you are taking all the precaution you can to make sure your loved ones and you are safe.”

Deaton said more than 1,500 people have made use of Ballad’s telemedicine services.

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