Ballad Health to pause elective, nonemergency surgeries starting Thursday

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn (WJHL) — Ballad Health will postpone all elective and nonemergent surgeries starting this Thursday, a health system spokesman told News Channel 11 Tuesday night.

The move represents the health system’s latest attempts to respond to a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations that Ballad now expects will increase to as many as 400 in two weeks.

Tuesday, Ballad’s COVID-19 census was at 283 with six of those patients in Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

“The volume trends are exceeding what had been modeled as a most hopeful scenario, with the census growing a surprising 29% since Friday, Aug. 20,” said Molly Lutton, Ballad’s vice president of marketing and communications. “Based on current modeling, it is now likely that, without any changes to the trends, Ballad Health could be serving as many as 400 COVID-19 patients within two weeks.”

Beginning Aug. 16, Ballad paused elective procedures that required an overnight stay, a move the system says helped mitigate the impact of the most recent COVID surge.

“This is a necessary move to preserve much-needed space and staffing,” Lutton said.

“Ballad Health is not furloughing team members at this time, but rather, may ask affected team members to provide support in various areas throughout the facility in which they work. This will enable Ballad Health to prioritize the most critical and highest-acuity patients. “

Lutton said Ballad Health will reveal more specifics about the decision on Wednesday. The health system will hold its weekly COVID-19 briefing at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Look for live coverage here on WJHL.com.

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