Some elective surgeries to resume at Ballad Health facilities

Local Coronavirus Coverage

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health announced Wednesday that the hospital system will resume some elective procedures that do not require patients to stay overnight.

Ballad postponed all elective and non-emergent surgeries in August after a rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the region.

In a release issued Wednesday, Ballad announced that providers have begun contacting their patients to schedule procedures based on staffing and space at facilities.

“This summer, we had to prepare for high volume of COVID-19 patients and plan for a worst-case scenario, which unfortunately required us to curtail some services. Given the limitations on available staffing, it was necessary to take these steps to ensure the safest possible environment for our patients and team members. We are grateful for everyone’s ongoing cooperation and input – from the medical staffs who provided their guidance, expertise and support, to the team members who continue to rise to the challenge and meet the needs of our patients, wherever they may be.”

Eric Deaton, Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer and incident commander of Corporate Emergency Operations Center (CEOC)

According to the release, no Ballad employees were furloughed during the pause of surgeries, but some employees were reassigned to other roles at their facilities.

Ballad Health broke its record of COVID-19 hospitalization on Sept. 7 with 413 inpatients. Six days later, the system saw its highest number of COVID patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Non-emergent surgeries will be classified by Ballad using the Elective Surgery Acuity Scale (ESAS), the release states.

“As examples, postponed procedures have included low-acuity surgeries for healthy and unhealthy patients, such as hernia repair, cholecystectomy, cardiac and interventional radiology procedures, aesthetic and plastic surgeries, podiatric procedures, vasectomies, bariatrics, joint replacements, screening endoscopies and non-essential spine surgery,” the release states.

Ballad Health leaders also announced Wednesday during a briefing that September has been the deadliest month for the Tri-Cities region since the pandemic began, with one-third of the deaths in Ballad hospitals being COVID-related.

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