Ballad resumes cardiac cases at Holston Valley after investigation finds recent patient deaths were not ‘result of any infection or any systemic issue’


KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- Cardiac surgical procedures resumed at Holston Valley Medical Center on Monday. This comes after Ballad Health halted cardiovascular procedures at the hospital last week, following what it called a “cluster” of post-cardiovascular deaths. In addition to investigating the cardiac deaths, a statement released Sunday said Ballad Health is also looking for employees that may have shared inaccurate information surrounding the deaths.

SEE ALSO: Ballad to resume cardiac cases Monday, internal investigation at HVMC finds recent patient deaths were not ‘result of any infection or any systemic issue’

After the internal review, Ballad Health Kingsport Market Operations CEO Lindy White wrote in a letter to HVMC staff, “the ultimate conclusion is that the outcomes were not outside the scope of what would be expected based on the severity of the patients’ illnesses.”

Both the Tennessee Department of Health and Sullivan County Regional Health Department confirmed their roles in the cardiovascular program review with News Channel Eleven.
Their involvement in the investigation came at the request of Ballad Health on February 18.

“Last week, there were post-cardiovascular surgical deaths. What concerned the team was that it is atypical for us to see a cluster so close together,” White’s statement read.

Surgeries were suspended as the internal clinical review was completed. Ballad’s statement said this included laboratory testing, staffing reviews, and evaluation of the environment of care at the medical center.

Gary Mayes, regional director of the Sullivan County Health Department, said it’s not uncommon for the local department to assist the Tennessee Department of Health in case reviews at area hospitals.

“Our team arrived on Wednesday, Thursday, and our section of the investigation was finished on Friday. No detail was left unnoticed or unevaluated,” said Mayes.

Mayes said he couldn’t give more specifics on the investigation because it involved patient-related data. He did confirm their findings.

“The feedback from the team is there’s no public health threat. There’s no safety issues related to the employees, the patients, or the public, whatsoever,” Mayes said.

News Channel 11 also requested further investigation details from the Tennessee Department of Health. Elizabeth Hart, associate director with the Office of Communications & Media Relations, responded in an email.

Hart said their Healthcare Associated Infections (HAI) team provided on-site consultation.

“No newly-identified common clinical factor among patients was determined during the HAI visit,” Hart wrote.

Ballad’s statement on the cardiovascular deaths also addressed an internal “individual, or individuals, who chose to take matters into their own hands, and they shared information outside the organization that was not accurate,” according to White’s letter.

White said that information was then irresponsibly shared on social media.

“Steps will be taken to identify who violated our policies, and maybe even the law. We will seek to hold anyone accountable who spreads misinformation about patient care, and we will do so unapologetically,” the letter said.

News Channel Eleven reached out to Ballad Health on Monday for further questioning on the statement. A Ballad spokesperson said the letter was the extent of the organization’s comment on the issue for now.

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