JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health unveiled its latest development in COVID-19 care on Monday morning.
Officials with Ballad Health hosted a press conference to officially unveil the new Center for Post-COVID Care and explain how it benefits those suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19.
According to a release from Ballad Health, the center will provide “clinical care for patients who are struggling with post-COVID symptomology.”
Through the Center for Post-COVID Care, Ballad can provide wraparound services, navigation and care management for post-COVID patients, as well as foster research and learning opportunities to understand prevalence, define symptomology, identify effective treatment care plans and understand syndrome causes and triggers of post-COVID symptomatic patients.
Eric Deaton, the Chief Operating Officer of Ballad Health, said to date, 1,966 people have died from the virus in Ballad’s service area and many of those who fought the virus and seemingly recovered are still seeing those long-term effects and symptoms far after their initial diagnosis.
The new unit operates currently from a virtual platform. While there is no physical location at this point in time, officials do hope to have one someday but say their current operations are running smoothly.
“In its current form, this is not really a physical space we’re referring to, but it’s rather a virtual care model where a navigator is assigned to a patient with long-term COVID symptoms,” said COO of Ballad Health, Eric Deaton.
The pilot program consisted of people ages 65 and older along with Ballad team members who had all tested positive for COVID in the past and are now experiencing the long-term effects. About 250 people made up this pilot program.
The goal is to provide patients suffering from the long-term effects of COVID with proper care with physicians across the region working together to help address these issues.
Laila Cowell is a part of the pilot program and says when she joined the unit in late February, she only felt like 30% of her normal pre-COVID self, today, she says that’s increased to 50%.
“I’m so thankful to have a program like this in our area. I think it would be a great benefit to the people here and as we continue to research and find out more, we’ll be able to help more people,” said Cowell.
Cowell said her symptoms while positive with COVID were quite mild in comparison with what she is experiencing now and that’s common across the region.
Dr. Paul Jett, the appointed Medical Director of this new unit hopes it helps as many people as possible, and estimates care could last over a year with frequent check-up appointments.
“People in the Appalachian Highlands are still getting sick every day and chances are we’re going to see some of those individuals in our center for Post-COVID care. We’re thrilled to offer this service, but at the same time, we would hope that over time the need for this service dissipates a good bit,” said Dr. Jett.
Officials with Ballad Health said that they are moving into Phase 2, which would expand this program to more individuals across the region.
To seek care with the Ballad Health Center for Post-COVID care or to learn more, patients and referring providers can call 423-952-2183 or email postcovid@ballad health.org.
You can watch News Channel 11’s live stream of the unveiling below:
Ballad Health also gave a one-year review of the pandemic Monday.