Ballad Health temporarily consolidates six urgent cares

Published 1:18 pm Sunday, April 12, 2020

Ballad Health announced the temporary consolidation of six urgent care facilities on Friday.
The consolidation begins on Monday, with patients of these facilities being referred to operating Urgent Cares in neighboring areas. Facilities impacted include Elizabethton, Gray, Jonesborough, Marion, the Bristol, Va. location on Interstate 81 exit 7 and the Volunteer Parkway in Bristol, Tenn. For Elizabethton, for example, patients will be directed to Johnson City.
According to Alan Levine, President and CEO of Ballad Health, the decision comes from low patient volumes to these areas.
“I would say we have probably had a 60 to 70 percent drop overall,” he said. “Some centers were seeing lower than others in terms of decreases. The six we decided to consolidate were the ones seeing the lowest volumes. It made sense to consolidate those centers into other facilities with the capacity.”
According to Levine, employees at these facilities had either already been furloughed, or will be sent to work elsewhere for the time being. It was announced earlier this week that 1,300 Ballad employees were being furloughed. Elaborating more on the benefits of this today, Levine explained that many of these workers were being called out of work due to having nothing to do. As a result, they were losing pay and using their paid time off. By giving them a furlough, they could use unemployment to receive pay during this time.
Furloughed employees do have the possibility of being called back when needed for various roles in the healthcare system. Levine mentioned many employees are needed in call centers that respond to COVID-19 questions and assessing symptoms.
On Monday, Ballad Health will be operating 11 of their 17 Urgent Care facilities, and also Virtual urgent care as well. This virtual experience allows patients to be seen and evaluated for a flat rate of $30. Virtual visits are accessible to everyone. This is part of Connected Care Telehealth, which provides a wide variety of services to patients online. This is predicted to be beneficial to patients and providers.
“Sometimes it takes a disaster to push organizations to do what the policies should’ve been all along,” Levine said.
For more information on Ballad Health’s virtual approach, you can go to
The six urgent care centers will reopen as volume increases in the future.

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