Ballad Health officials urge public to continue following guidelines

Published 3:57 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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Ballad Health continued to urge the following of COVID-19 guidelines during a press conference on Wednesday.
The health organization reportedly has 117 patients in-house with the virus, 22 in the ICU and 11 on ventilators. Additionally, there are 40 PUIs (patients under investigation), which are awaiting test results. While PUIs are placed separately from COVID-19 units until cases are confirmed, they are isolated under the same protocols.
One week ago Ballad Health had 94 in-house patients and one month ago had 38.
Current patient occupancy for med-surg beds is at 92.9 percent and 87.7 percent for ICU beds. There are 45 available designated beds available for COVID and 19 available ICU beds. 
Jamie Swift, Chief Inspection Prevention Officer, explained why it is important for downward trends in cases to be long term.
“I want to stress, we are still seeing the cases, we are still seeing the hospitalizations,” she said. “It’s really important that we see several weeks of trending down, that’s what’s important. Not necessarily day by day.”
Smith explained that patients in-house range from all ages, and now is not the time to cease following guidelines. 
Following updates from Swift, Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, explained delays in testing. Runnels said that testing delays have become a nationwide issue, however our area has not been severely impacted. The average wait to get a test back is about a week. 
Another drive-thru testing site for the virus has been established in Abingdon at Exit 91 off I-81. All COVID-19 tests through Ballad must be scheduled by calling Nurse Connect at 833-822-5523. 
Despite a slight decline in the positivity rate, it is 10.8 percent, which Runnels warned is still high.
“This is a very important number that we track,” he said. “We have to watch this for many days and weeks before we can see a trend.”
After Runnels, Lisa Smithgall, Chief Nursing Executive, thanked team members for their continuance work, and spoke on employee assistance programs to aid in “toxic stress,” or continued day to day stress that can lead to prolonged, continued or frequent stress/anxiety responses. The Employee Assistance Program has been expanded to help with this, and offers counseling for stress, depression, substance abuse, marital issues, etc. More information regarding this can be accessed by calling 423-302-3480 or visiting the EAP website on Ballad Health intranet. 
Along with COVID-19 deaths, officials warned that it is not just the elderly, and while some have mild cases of the virus, others may be severe. 
For the latest updates on Ballad Health, you can go to A daily scorecard containing updated numbers and comparisons is also now being provided from Ballad. 

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