KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – Ballad Health provided free training and education on potentially dangerous new illnesses at the 2023 Emerging Pathogens Preparedness and Response Conference.

The event was held Thursday at the MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center. More than 200 people from across the Tri-Cities region and beyond attended.

“The aim was to bring all of the regional health partners together to one room to talk about really preparedness and always being ready,” said Ballad Health Chief Infection Prevention Officer Jamie Swift. “We learned through COVID, preparedness was the key. We’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to work together as a region, as two states crossing state lines.”

The free event featured national experts on diseases who shared what they’ve learned in the field across the world. Those who attended the conference represented area hospitals, health care, schools, nursing homes and businesses.

Photo: WJHL

“In our audience, we have hospitals and nursing homes and labs and health departments and just a wide array of attendees from Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina,” Swift said. “We’re all here together building those connections, opening those lines of communication so that in an emergency we’re all on the same page.”

Swift said over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals learned more about how impacted some types of businesses could be by illnesses.

“A disease outbreak affects the entire community.”

The conference was held in partnership with the Northeast Tennessee Healthcare Preparedness Coalition.