JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ballad Health announced Monday that it will close the intensive care unit at Sycamore Shoals Hospital and move intensive care services to Johnson City Medical Center.

The ICU at Sycamore Shoals will close effective Sunday, June 4, according to Ballad.

The health system said the decision to integrate intensive care services was made after an “in-depth review of existing services.”

“The average daily census of the ICU at Sycamore Shoals Hospital is fewer than six patients, making its ICU one of the lower-volume units in the state of Tennessee, a fact not surprising given the proximity of the hospital to Johnson City Medical Center (JCMC), where many patients from the Sycamore Shoals Hospital service area currently receive their ICU services,” Ballad said in a release.

Ballad said the higher level of care offered at JCMC will increase the chances of better patient outcomes.

“The overwhelming medical evidence shows that regionalizing high-acuity services, like intensive care, saves more lives,” Ballad Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Amit Vashist said in a release.

The health system said records show that in 2022, 337 patients in the Sycamore Shoals service area used the ICU at Johnson City Medical Center. Moving ICU services to Johnson City will eliminate the transfer of patients who are already in the ICU at Sycamore Shoals but need a higher level of services, Ballad said.

According to Ballad, the move is in alignment with national best practices for providing intensive care services.

Employees affected by the move will have the option of working other positions at Sycamore Shoals or working positions at JCMC that are equivalent to their current roles, the health system said.

Ballad also announced investments, including the addition of a psychiatric provider to its Elizabethton primary care clinic and the purchase of a new 3D mammography unit.

“This new technology will enhance breast cancer detection and improve patient outcomes for the women in the communities we serve,” said Dwayne Taylor, CEO of Sycamore Shoals Hospital. “Additionally, given the demand for behavioral health services, we are also pleased to be adding a psychiatric provider to our primary care clinic here in Elizabethton. This will further expand investments in primary care and behavioral health integration, thus enhancing access to services aligned with the needs of our community.”