‘You are saving lives’: Newt Gingrich sends message of thanks, encouragement to Ballad Health staff

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Ballad Health employees received an unexpected word of encouragement Friday in their increasingly difficult work of caring for Covid-19 patients.

It came in the form of an audio message recorded by former U.S. Speaker of the House and 2012 Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich. The message was sent from Vatican City where Gingrich now lives with his wife Callista Gingrich, President Trump’s Ambassador to the Holy See.

“I’ve been watching the progress of how Ballad Health has responded in the Covid-19 pandemic,” Gingrich said in the almost two minute-long recording. “And having seen the impact in various communities around the world, I told Alan (Levine, Ballad’s CEO) I wanted to personally applaud you for the work you’re doing, the heroic work of the bedside nurse and their support teams, the doctors and the important work being done by the incident command team are all contributing to the benefit of your patients in the Appalachian Highlands.”

Click on the video player above to hear the full message.

Gingrich is personal friends with Ballad Health President and CEO Alan Levine who he referred to in the message as “my longtime friend and frankly one of the most respected health care leaders in the country.”

Gingrich visited Johnson City in 2016 . He met with hospital leaders and spoke at ETSU.

“I just want to tell you not to lose hope,” he said in the message that was forwarded to all Ballad Health employees Friday afternoon and obtained by News Channel 11. “It is in moments like these that we better understand why God put us where he did. You are saving lives and you are making the community better.”

Ballad Health leaders say they’re struggling to meet staffing demands to care for the almost 200 Covid-19 patients currently in Ballad facilities.

Ballad’s CEO said he hoped the message from Vatican City to Johnson City was an encouragement to the health system’s employees. “Speaker Gingrich told me he has felt for all the front line health care workers and wanted to be supportive,” Levine said. “His words are very powerful and are an incredible gesture our team members deserved to hear. He rightly points out that during these difficult times it’s important to remember it is why God puts us in a position to serve others. Our team members are an inspiration.”

Gingrich ended the message with a request that Ballad caregivers to not give up under the pressure they’re facing.

“I have confidence in each of you,” Gingrich said. “Stay at it. Keep the faith. And God bless you all.”

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