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Recommended: Protect yourself by staying up-to-date with your COVID-19 booster shots

Given the increase of COVID-19 in our region, now is a good time to ensure you’re up-to-date on the boosters. Our COVID-19 inpatient census has risen to more than 150, while the region’s positivity rate is higher than 35%. In addition to an initial booster, many people might also be eligible and recommended to receive the second booster and either don’t realize it, or simply haven’t gotten around to it yet. But the vaccine boosters can help protect you, especially as the effectiveness of a previous COVID-19 vaccination wanes over time. People are protected best from severe COVID-19 illness when they stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, which includes getting all recommended boosters when eligible. There are different COVID-19 vaccine recommendations for people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised. It is never too late to get the added protection offered by a COVID-19 booster. Who can get a booster? Everyone ages 5 years and older should…

CEOC update: Implementation of contingency staffing effective Feb. 16

TO: Ballad Health All FROM: Ballad Health Corporate Emergency Operations Center DATE: Feb. 16, 2022 TITLE: Implementation of Contingency Staffing ACTION: Please post and cascade to all team members.   Due to a decrease in community and team member transmission of COVID-19, Ballad Health will return to contingency staffing, effective Wednesday, Feb. 16. Contact tracing will also resume. This downgrades our system from the previous level – Crisis Standards of Care; Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages – that was in effect through Feb. 15. Contingency staffing is applied when staffing shortages are occurring or are expected due to quarantine measures. The contingency guidelines apply to areas that are not high risk. High-risk areas, such as cancer centers and oncology units, Hospitots and the Niswonger Children’s Network, will follow conventional guidelines when determining if COVID-19 positive team members can return to work. Key points to know about contingency staffing: All team members who test positive for COVID-19 must…

Important reminder on COVID-19 vaccination deadlines

The deadline for all team members to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 is Friday, March 11, unless the team member has an approved medical or religious exemption. Here are key dates on the vaccination time line: Monday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. – Exemption requests must be completed online from the HR department page. If requesting a medical exemption, any supporting documentation needs to be submitted to Team Member Health by Monday, Jan. 31. If a team member is filing a religious exemption, both forms needs to be completed by Monday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4 – Exemption decisions will be communicated by this date to team members. They will need to check their email for communication regarding any exemption requests. Friday, Feb. 11 – Deadline for team members to have received their first dose of the vaccine. Friday, March 11 – Deadline for all team members to be fully vaccinated (unless they have…

Message from Alan Levine: Update on CMS rule related to vaccine mandate

NOTE: This message was emailed on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, from Alan Levine, Ballad Health chairman and chief executive officer, to all Ballad Health team members.   Good morning: As you know, in early September, President Biden announced his intention to utilize federal agencies and their regulatory power over private businesses and health care institutions to enforce a mandate for vaccinating employees and, in the case of hospitals, anyone coming into connection with these institutions. This sweeping effort is the first time the federal government has ever taken such a step. On Oct. 26, I testified before the United States Congress and shared my concern about the use of sweeping federal powers to force a nationwide mandate. I argued that a “one size fits all approach” does not respect cultural differences throughout regions of the country, and failure to respect those cultural differences could do more harm than good in terms of educating people about the benefits…

Important information about COVID-19 vaccination status, deadlines

With the first deadline looming for team members to meet the federal COVID-19 vaccination mandate, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about team member vaccination status, offering more details to help you make your vaccination decision. Click here to view the FAQs in PDF format, located on our COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center for team members, or see the questions below in the body of this article. The deadline for first-dose vaccinations is Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. All team members must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022 – unless you have an approved medical or religious exemption. The exemption deadline has passed. Exemption submissions were due by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24. Also note that our POD (points of dispensing) schedule for vaccinations has been updated, and PODs at all five of our hospital locations WILL BE OPEN on Sunday, Dec. 5, from noon to 3 p.m. Click here to view the new…

Update to clarify latest news on OSHA and CMS COVID-19 vaccine mandates

With recent news that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination has been suspended while the matter is litigated in the courts, we’ve received questions about whether this applies to Ballad Health. To help clarify things, it is important to note that this suspension DOES NOT apply to Ballad Health or reverse the current federal mandate from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that we’re required to follow. All Ballad Health team members are still required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 – with their first dose by no later than Dec. 5, 2021, and to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. OSHA mandate that has been suspended This mandate was put forth as an Emergency Temporary Standard by OHSA to protect workers from the risk of COVID-19. It established minimum COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements for private employers…

COVID-19 vaccine resource center now available on Ballad Health News

With the announcement of a federal novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandate for healthcare organizations, and creation of the subsequent Ballad Health policy about the federal ruling, we’ve put together a web page for team members containing various resources about the vaccine, including frequently asked questions, team member updates and scientific studies. The page can be found here on Balladhealthnews.org at www.balladhealthnews.org/covid-19-vaccine-resource-center, accessible from any device 24/7. We will update the page with new resources or updated Q&As as they become available. Thank you for your compliance with the mandate, and thank you for the tremendous work all team members do every day.  

An update from Alan Levine regarding the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Note: This message was emailed to all Ballad Health team members on Thursday, Nov. 11. Dear colleagues, As we all learned last week, pursuant to orders from President Joe Biden, the United States Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a new rule requiring that hospitals and other health care organizations which participate in Medicare and Medicaid require their physicians, team members, volunteers, students, interns, vendors and any other individual who may come into contact with other individuals within the work setting to become vaccinated by one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines. This means, beginning Jan. 4, all Ballad Health team members must be fully vaccinated, unless you have an approved medical or religious exemption. This new rule is far-reaching and the implications are very serious for hospitals and health systems.  Non-compliance by hospitals will lead to significant fines and, ultimately, termination from federal health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid. Given that…

Ballad Health prepares to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for children ages 5 and older

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – With a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination now approved under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for children ages 5 to 11, Ballad Health is providing the vaccine in its Community Vaccination Center (CVC). The shots will also be given in Ballad Health Medical Associates offices that treat pediatric patients. Established patients can begin calling to make appointments to receive the vaccine. Shots have undergone rigorous testing The shots have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation and received the EUA by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approval by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and final guidance and recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ballad Health, as it has with all COVID-19 vaccine progress and availability, has followed full guidance by federal and regulatory agencies. “This is an encouraging move forward in the continued fight against COVID-19, and it’s very welcome news to many parents,” said Jamie…

Message from Alan Levine regarding CMS vaccine mandate for healthcare

NOTE: This message was emailed to all Ballad Health team members on Thursday, Nov. 4. Dear Colleague: This morning, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new rule which mandates COVID-19 vaccines for any hospital, home health agency, long-term care facility and certain other health care providers. We are in the process of evaluating the rule and the impact it may have on Ballad Health. Upon initial review, it is clear the only exceptions to all team members, students, residents and anyone contracted with Ballad Health being vaccinated are for medical or religious reasons. The mandate is very far-reaching, and will impact our partner colleges and universities as well as vendors and others who have contact with our facilities. Prior to establishing our policy, we will be consulting with our Regional Ethics committee, which includes individuals from various backgrounds, including physician, clergy, nursing and community members. It is important we receive input…

Alan Levine offers insight on rural healthcare challenges during congressional hearing

  JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine served as an expert witness and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on Tuesday, expressing his concern about the challenges we face as a rural healthcare system. Levine spoke via live video feed from his office at Ballad Health’s corporate headquarters. His remarks centered around concerns for the ability of Ballad Health – and many other health systems across the nation – to continue providing high-quality care despite a nursing shortage that is made worse by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. He called it “an emerging national crisis.” The Subcommittee was conducting a legislative hearing titled “Caring for America: Legislation to support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers,” and several pieces of legislation that could ease the burden on hospitals were under consideration. Levine was one of seven expert witnesses who provided testimony during…

Important message to team members who saw charge in MyChart for COVID-19 booster

Ballad Health team members who received the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) booster shot may see an accompanying charge listed on their account in MyChart. Please disregard this charge, as team members will not be billed for receiving the COVID-19 booster shot, and this charge will be adjusted off. We apologize for any inconvenience.