For the third day in a row, a group of concerned citizens gathered to protest outside a Tri-Cities Hospital. 

They’re outside Holston Valley Medical Center, hoping to send a message to Ballad Health administrators. 

They say they’re worried about Ballad’s decision to close the NICU at Holston Valley in Kingsport and Centralize all NICU services in Johnson City. 

“Ballad says they want to hear our story. They have not wanted to meet with nobody so they don’t want to hear the story,” said Ketron Bailey. “They don’t want to hear real-life stories. It’s disheartening.” 

Protestors tell us they are going to stay outside the hospital until they hear from decision makers. This past week, the commissioner of health in Tennessee approved Ballad’s NICU consolidation plan. 

Former state representative and Kingsport mayoral candidate Nathan Vaughn also attended the protest.

He said the healthcare of our region is the most important issue facing us right now.

“Doing away with the NICU here at Holston Valley, which was the first NICU in the State of Tennessee, it’s going to put an awful lot of babies in jeopardy, and that’s a scary situation,” Vaughn said.

Ballad Health issued the following statement to News Channel 11 about the protest. 

Ballad Health relies upon the medical evidence when it comes to the well-being of our patients. This is why the State Health Commissioner, State Attorney General, Children’s Hospital Alliance of Tennessee, ETSU’s College of Medicine, and virtually all of the evidence from the American Academy of Pediatrics surrounding the care of high risk newborns, have independently affirmed the decisions that have been made. We appreciate there may be different opinions, but when it comes to what is best for patient care, we rely on medical evidence and will follow best practices. Our priority is what is best for patient care, and it will remain that way.