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Ballad Health: Mask up!

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
Ballad Health officials shared why continuing to follow guidelines is necessary during a media briefing on Wednesday. 
 
Eric Deaton, Chief Operating Officer, explained recent decreases in the total number of cases.
 
“We believe that due to the mask mandates in place, we’ve seen a decrease in the last three weeks, a decrease in the total number of cases in the region,” he said.
 
According to Deaton, this decrease is a possible signifier that social distancing guidelines, wearing masks and hand hygiene are helping in combating the virus. 
 
“It’s really important that we continue to be diligent with the mask-wearing,” he said. “Although we’ve really been encouraged with these numbers, we need to make sure that people follow masking, hand hygiene and social distancing.”
 
Due to masking, Deaton said he believes there were around 100-120 hospitalizations avoided. 
 
In showing models during the briefing, he explained that continuing current practices instead of letting up can help level off a bit. 
 
“It definitely depends on us doing all the things we’re talking about,” he explained. 
 
Dr. Clay Runnels, Chief Physician Executive, spoke on a Vanderbilt study that showed Northeast Tennessee at the top of the list of state regions, with 100 percent mandating masks.
 
Runnels further stressed that wearing a mask is beneficial to both the community and the healthcare system. 
 
“Wearing a mask works, and I urge you to wear one,” he said.
 
In addition to encouraging continued following of the guidelines, new updates were provided.
 
Beginning Aug. 20, patient visitation hours will be expanded and now be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Patients are allowed one visitor per stay.
 
Visitors will be screened for COVID-19. This screening will include being asked if they have had anything of the following symptoms within the last 24 hours: fever, cough sore throat, unexpected muscle aches, loss of appetite, loss of taste, loss of smell, chills/shaking chills, new headaches, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. 
 
It is asked that people remain respectful of team members during these screenings and also to be truthful. 
 
Effective Aug. 20, Ballad has also updated its mask-wearing policy. They will no longer allow masks with exhalation valves or vents in facilities. This is per CDC guidance. 
 
Ballad is launching a new mobile app as well, which provides medical information to patients.
 
If patients have been tested for COVID, their results can appear in their Epic MyChart account. 
 
As of Aug. 19, Ballad has 104 COVID-19 patients in-house, 23 are in the ICU and 13 are on ventilators. There are 27 people under investigation (PUIs). 
 
The latest numbers are released daily at 11 a.m. in a daily scorecard.
 
For more information on Ballad Health, you can go to www.balladhealth.org