Ballad Health announces Niswonger Children’s Network


Ballad Health has unveiled what it calls, “a massive philanthropic investment,” in child and family health care. Headlined by a $17 million fund-raising effort through the Ballad Health Foundation, the total investment is just shy of $60 million.

The Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network, announced at a press conference March 4, is a regional system of healthcare and community services 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.”

Alan Levine Photo by Dave Ongie

“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.

Lisa Carter Photo by Dave Ongie

“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.”

“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.”

Major philanthropic announcement
The creation of the Niswonger Children’s network is an investment of nearly $60 million throughout the region. 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.

Jack Simpson Photo by Dave Ongie

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.

Adding to their recent investment creating the J.D. Nicewonder Family Pediatric Emergency Department in Bristol, Tennessee, the family announced a $7 million commitment toward the Niswonger Children’s Network and the creation of two regional centers for pediatrics – a Center for Perinatal and Neonatal Care and a Center for Pediatric Specialties, both located at Niswonger Children’s Hospital.

New initiatives for the region
The Niswonger Children’s Network efforts and initiatives include (but are not limited to):

• The new Regional Center for Perinatal and Neonatal Care and the Regional Center for Pediatric Specialties at Niswonger Children’s Hospital – including a two-story expansion of Niswonger Children’s Hospital and the newest, most modern neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in Virginia or Tennessee to serve the region

• 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

• A new Pediatric Emergency Department now under development at Indian Path Community Hospital in Kingsport

• The conversion of Indian Path to become a Center for Women and Babies

• A major investment of $8 million into advanced robotics surgery, with the newest and most advanced robotic system, the DaVinci Xi, being placed at Holston Valley Medical Center, Franklin Woods Community Hospital and Bristol Regional Medical Center – technology that will advance care provided by physicians who practice in women’s specialties.

• The conversion of the former Takoma Regional Hospital in Greeneville to serve the needs of women and children through the Strong Futures Program announced recently, and which drew a $7 million investment by the State of Tennessee in addition to Ballad Health’s investment

• The expansion of the Children’s Resource Center at Niswonger Children’s Hospital to Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Virginia

• An expansion of the Niswonger Children’s Network school-based virtual urgent care and behavioral health into additional school locations in Virginia, which received support earlier this year through grant funding and private gifts to Ballad Health Foundation

• The Ballad Health Strong Brain Institute and Center for Trauma Informed Care at East Tennessee State University, inclusive of a regional child abuse prevention program

• The creation of, and continued collaboration with, STRONG Accountable Care Community (ACC) partners – bringing a regional voice to the issues affecting women and children

• Wellness playgrounds

• A groundbreaking new program called Strong Starts. This program will be region-wide and represents a wholly unique approach to maternity care, early childhood development and family support that has never been done anywhere else in the country

• An investment into Virginia Kids Belong, creating a relationship between the Niswonger Children’s Network and a proven program to assist the development and sustainability of foster families in Southwest Virginia

• Ballad Health’s ongoing support for the Kingsport Miracle Field, fulfilling a commitment of $250,000 to invest in access to activity and programs for children who deserve the opportunity to play and develop.

“How we support our mothers and children is a strong indicator of our region’s worth,” said Scott Niswonger, whose initial $10 million contribution created Niswonger Children’s Hospital. “I deeply appreciate the Nicewonder family and all those who have contributed to ensuring children can realize a successful and productive future.”

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