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Ballad Health leader joins school safety discussion

Hank Hayes • May 30, 2018 at 8:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Ballad Health Executive Chairman, President and CEO Alan Levine and about 20 educators had a discovery on Wednesday.

They discovered they need each other.

The group assembled at the Kingsport Center for Higher Education at the request of U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, who has been holding meetings on school safety since the mass shooting at Parkland, Florida.

Levine noted Ballad Health is attempting to put together rural, pediatric and behavioral plans to submit to the state of Tennessee as part of its Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) requirements.

“The one area of crossover is our schools,” Levine told the group. “You’re the group that I’m not aware that we have engaged. … What I would like to do is ask that this group assemble again with the consultants and our behavioral and pediatric team. … The starting point for us is: Where are the kids? You have them.”

Levine also announced that a pediatric emergency room will be built in Kingsport.

Roe said that after Parkland, the first group of educators he met with in Hawkins County focused on mental health issues.

“The discussion quickly got into mental health issues they are dealing with. … The solutions are going to be found locally,” Roe, R-Tenn., noted. “So I thought, let’s put together Ballad Health because in the COPA they are required to do some things in the public health sector. … Today was one of the best meetings I’ve been to. … We need to get telehealth assets into the schools.

“We’ve had a complete failure of our mental health system in this country. What we’re talking about doing here today are the things we can control with our school children. … I think we can be a model for the country.”

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