Niswonger Children’s Network will include expansion of children’s hospital

Ballad Health Chairman and CEO Alan Levine announced the formation of the Niswonger Children’s Network during a press conference last Thursday. Photos by Dave Ongie

Last Thursday, Ballad Health unveiled a massive philanthropic investment into its comprehensive, regional system of care that, combined with Ballad Health’s investment, represents a nearly $60 million commitment to children, families and the future of the Appalachian Highlands.

The Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network is a regional system of healthcare and community services marking a new phase in high standards of care and well-being for children, regardless of where they live, across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“Ballad Health is a regional resource for our families and children,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “Our board of directors, physicians and team members strive to meet the needs of communities all over the region, and those needs are met inside and outside the walls of hospitals. Our goal is to meet these needs even before a baby is born, and to be the family’s resource all the way through childhood.”

Among the new initiatives coming in the wake of Thursday’s announcement is the formation of a new Regional Center for Perinatal and Neonatal Care and the Regional Center for Pediatric Specialties at Niswonger Children’s Hospital, which will include a two-story expansion to house the newest, most modern neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Virginia or Tennessee.

Also, the new Niswonger Children’s Network will feature an enhanced partnership between Ballad Health and ETSU Health. Powered by ETSU Health, Niswonger Children’s Hospital recently attracted two new high-quality pediatric surgeons, bringing the complement of trauma-capable surgeons to three for the region – the most in its history.

“Families from throughout the region have always considered Niswonger Children’s Hospital ‘their hospital.’ With the new Niswonger Children’s Network, we are creating a pathway for access to the same high-quality care and resources across the entire Appalachian Highlands,” said Lisa Carter, chief executive officer of Niswonger Children’s Hospital and Ballad Health’s vice president of pediatric and women’s services. “If you see that a service is a part of this network, then you know there is a high-quality partnership in place designed to provide the best standard of care worthy of the Niswonger brand.

Scott Niswonger praised the multifaceted initiative, which is aimed at improving healthcare for children in our region.

“We are leaning forward to meet families where they are and to try to help tackle some of the problems that threaten the future of families. We want the more than 1 million people in our region to know that the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network is a blend of services and programs designed to help our entire region thrive.”

Recognizing the importance of community investment in pediatric health, the health system plans to secure at least $17 million toward these initiatives through gifts to Ballad Health Foundation. The foundation has already secured $9 million that will support the creation of the network, including a pace-setting gift of $7 million from the J.D. Nicewonder family. The Nicewonder family’s gift is the second-largest single investment into the region’s children’s hospital.

“As we seek to strengthen our region economically, there are two things we know families need – excellent schools and world-class healthcare,” Levine added. “This investment underscores that the Appalachian Highlands has both.”


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