(PUB. NOTE: Last week, Ballad Health CEO Lindy White delivered the following message to staff and physicians at Holston Valley Medical Center regarding a protester at their facility in Kingsport. It was provided to the Review and is being reprinted here as an open letter to the editor.)

6-28-19

From: Lindy White

To: Holston Valley team members and physicians

The health and safety of our Kingsport patients and team members is our number one priority at Holston Valley Medical Center.

In recent months, we have announced some important changes that will assist Kingsport in sustaining important services here in our region and to ensure that we remain a tertiary referral center.

In sharing these changes, we have engaged in a respectful dialogue with people throughout the community, including those who have chosen to express their disagreement by protesting and setting up camp adjacent to our hospital property.

We certainly respect the right of everyone to express their opinions, and for nearly two months we have accommodated their physical presence at the main entrance of our hospital.

However, the continuing presence of one of the individuals on our property has become disruptive to our team members and to our patients. The presence of this individual on many occasions inside our hospital has created concern by our staff for the safety of our patients and themselves. In most cases, this individual’s presence has been disruptive to the important delivery of healthcare.

For that reason, we have limited access to the Holston Valley Medical Center facility for one of the protestors who has repeatedly interfered with patient care by entering patient rooms, disagreeing with nurses and physicians over treatment plans, and directly inserting themselves into patient care.

In one case, in which the protester was questioning a caregiver about a treatment plan, the patient involved said they did not agree with what the protester was saying and asked that the individual leave the room.

This protestor has created fear within the staff, and they do not feel empowered to address their concerns directly with the protestor. We, as leaders, are called to advocate for our patients and our staff.

Team members are parking in other lots, walking longer distances to their work entrance to not take a chance of being approached by this individual. Team members have shared that they initially thought this individual was rallying to support their hospital but now feel as if they are working to destroy it.

Many clinical team members have expressed concerns to hospital leadership and asked for guidance regarding the protestors – they believe this individual is interfering with patient care and their ability to safely and effectively provide care.

Our team has directly shared that they are fearful of this protestor, that they feel intimidated by this individual, and uncomfortable when they are on the unit.

This is unacceptable. We will continue to engage in a respectful dialogue with the community, but we cannot allow patient care to be disrupted or compromised, and we must provide a safe work environment for our team. As such, this individual will only be permitted to access hospital property to access care for themselves or for an immediate family member defined as a parent, child, or grandchild.

We understand that members of the community have the right to protest appropriately. This action is not intended to stop community members from expressing their opinions; it is intended to protect our patients and team members from harassment and interference.

Please let me know if you have any questions

Sincerely,

Lindy