COPA council repeats call for Ballad to improve communication


BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – The group that oversees the merger that created Ballad Health says the health system still needs to improve how it communicates.

The COPA Local Advisory Council met Thursday afternoon at Northeast State Community College in Blountville.

Many council members repeated their calls for Ballad to improve communications, specifically communications with the public about changes made after the merging of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance.

“We have a communication issue and I think it’s going to take all of us listening to our citizens and responding to as many of their concerns, I won’t call them complaints, I will call them concerns because many of them are very very valid,” said Dr. Brenda White Wright, a member of the council.

In April, a COPA report cited a need for improved communications. The Tennessee Department of Health said the same thing in a May report.

The COPA Monitor, who is hired by the state to work between Ballad and the Department of Health, believes the health system is making improvements.

“Ballad is getting better, and realize that Ballad has only been in place less than 18 months,” said Larry Fitzgerald, the COPA Monitor. “I think they’re going to do better next year than they did last year.”

The COPA Local Advisory Council also wants more information about the impact of the merger on retaining physicians and hospital staff. Members also discussed ways to make sure the community understands that the council does not work for Ballad or have control over the health system.

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