By David Rogers. March 23, 2016. BLOWING ROCK, NC — As the Shakespearean saying goes, a rose by any other name is still a rose, but Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) blossomed big on Monday when Senior Vice President for Development Rob Hudspeth broke the news that the primary care clinic on the soon-to-be-completed Chestnut Ridge healthcare campus will be named, “The Harriet and Charles Davant Medical Clinic.”
COVER IMAGE: Rob Hudspeth, Senior Vice President of Development for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, addresses The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
Hudspeth’s revelations came at the regular weekly meeting of The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock at Chetola Mountain Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock.
On a personal level, ARHS’ nomenclature honors the legacy of Dr. Charles Davant as arguably “the godfather” of formalized healthcare in Blowing Rock. Dr. Davant established a family-oriented practice downtown in 1948, and eventually became not just a permanent resident, but an iconic fixture in the community. He was the driving force behind Blowing Rock Hospital, which several years ago transitioned to the Blowing Rock Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care facility.
On a business level, naming the new primary care clinic after “Doctor Charlie” establishes important continuity between the old and the new: as soon as construction is completed this summer and passes all of the regulatory inspections (expected in September), the old hospital will close and both legacy and new operations will be revealed at the state-of-the-art campus known as “Chestnut Ridge” on the northern outskirts of Blowing Rock’s town limits.
This is new, so you are the first to hear about it.
While a centerpiece of the more than 87,400 square foot Chestnut Ridge campus will be The Foley Center, a 112-bed post-acute care facility, the Harriet and Charles Davant Medical Clinic will open at the same time. As a primary care clinic, the latter is likely to be many area residents’ most common connection to the new campus since that will be where they “go see the doctor” in a traditional sense.
“Richard Sparks and our board (of trustees) made the decision to honor the Davant family with this medical clinic,” Hudspeth told the Rotarians. “We met with Harriet Davant last week in Florida to discuss this with her. This is new, so you are the first to hear about it. We are really excited about the opportunity to honor them.”
Hudspeth described the new primary care clinic as a little more than 4,000 square feet and showed demonstration slides of the facility. “It will be staffed with physicians and advanced practice clinicians, such as physicians or nurse practitioners.”
The post-acute care facility, The Foley Center, really aims to replace the Rehabilitation and Davant Extended Care facility — and more. The five key components of the post-acute care center include:
- Physical Therapy
- Memory Care
- Palliative Care
- Short -Term Skilled Nursing
- Long-Term Skilled Nursing
Sometimes patients are not ready to return home.
Acknowledging that Chestnut Ridge’s completion is an important step in also completing the “Continuum of Care” that ARHS envisions, Hudspeth pointed out to the Rotarians that “hospital setting stays are typically the most expensive places to receive care.
“However,” he added, “sometimes after illness or injury, patients are not ready to return home. Chestnut Ridge will be an option for patients that DON’T need to be in a hospital, but DO need medical care on their journey toward recovery.” Hudspeth continued by saying, “Our hope is that we can get you well enough to send you home.”
Hudspeth emphasized the continuity of care provided by Chestnut Ridge vs. the current Rehabilitation Center and Davant Extended Care facility, “Some people will spend the rest of their lives there. There is a long-term skilled nursing component and assisted living component.”
The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock is a large contributor to Alzheimer’s research and is currently leading all Rotary clubs regionally in total giving and giving per capita in the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, a project of The Rotary Clubs of North America, so Hudspeth’s comments on The Foley Center’s “memory care” service especially hit home.
One-third of people over the age of 70 have some form of memory loss.
“I heard you talk earlier in the meeting about Alzheimer’s research,” the ARHS executive said. “One-third of people over the age of 70 have some form of memory loss, so we look at this as being an extremely important part of the care we’ll provide at The Foley Center.”
Mr. Hudspeth’s presentation also included two other revelations that had been rumored, but not confirmed publicly.
- Blowing Rock’s Village Pharmacy will move from its current location on Sunset Dr. (across from First Baptist Church) to become the new on-site pharmacy at Chestnut Ridge, leveraging the patient flow from the primary care clinic, the post-acute care facility, and a future retirement community planned for adjacent property.
- ARHS’ fundraising efforts have resulted in an extensive list of donors supporting the new facility, including its various “naming opportunities.” While the entrance bridge at the intersection of U.S. 321 and Edmisten Rd. has already been publicized as the “Reba and Grady Moretz, Jr. Bridge,” Hudspeth displayed a presentation slide which recognized the naming contributions of the nearby Appalachian Ski Mountain founders, and others including:
- The Foley family
- The Duke Endowment
- The Couch family
- The Schaefer family
- The Cannon Foundation
- Hound Ears Club
- The Broyhill family
At the conclusion of his part of the presentation, Hudspeth called upon the chairman of the Chestnut Ridge Capital Campaign, Jerry Hutchens.
Hutchens took great care in thanking the many contributors to the project not just in money, but in the form of time and talents. He took particular note of the Town Council in approving the annexation of the Chestnut Ridge acreage into the town limits, as well as making provisions for water and sewer to the property. He took special care to acknowledge three Rotarians in the audience who have played significant roles in getting the project moved along, including Mayor J.B. Lawrence, Town Manager Scott Fogleman, and the area’s former North Carolina State Representative, Cullie Tarleton, who has made connections both while in office and once he left office.
Cullie Tarleton made connections both while in office and once he left office.
Much of the Q&A period focused on the potential for a retirement community on the ARHS property adjacent to Chestnut Ridge. “We are health care providers,” Hudspeth reminded the audience. “We are not a retirement community provider nor a real estate development company. Having said that, please know that this is a major priority for us — because it makes sense to have a retirement community that complements our healthcare facility. To do it right, though, requires us to forge a partnership with a company that specializes in retirement communities.
“We have a community task force whose mission is to explore this possibility,” Hudspeth continued. “We’ve had many, many conversations with retirement community developers, and the first thing each of them has done is conduct a preliminary market study. They each have their own methodology, but the basic factors they evaluate are age, population, and income. They look at Blowing Rock, with a population of 1,250 people. They look at the 53,000 in Watauga County. They look at the broader High Country region and the opportunities associated with in-migration. They evaluate the seasonal population fluctuations. They understand particularly that the demographics are somewhat different than what they see in more urban areas. Our challenge is to get them to see that people here have a real passion for bringing a retirement community to the High Country.”
In a follow-up interview with Blowing Rock News after the Rotary meeting, Hudspeth was asked some additional questions about the retirement community. He responded, “There are some really strong reasons why a retirement community developer will see Chestnut Ridge as an ideal location. First of all, we already have the road up to the Chestnut Ridge area, so our location offers immediate physical access. Second, thanks to our work with the Town of Blowing Rock, we already have water and sewer to the area. Third, every day, more than 10,000 people in this country are turning 65…and they all, especially retirees, want access to the kind of onsite healthcare facilities that we are already building. And fourth, our property is located right on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s a major selling point, because how many retirement communities can say they are in Blowing Rock and alongside the Blue Ridge Parkway?’”
The basic factors are age, population and income.
Hudspeth added that there are a couple of “live” conversations going on with retirement community developers and at least one seemed to be very interested. “They see the opportunity. It’s just a matter of making their numbers work.”
Of the targeted goal of $11.5 million in outside money — individual contributions, grants and foundation donations — Hudspeth reported that, to date, the fundraising campaign had raised almost $9.62 million. “We are a little less than $1.9 million short, so we have some work left to do.”
Hutchins added, “We could have built Chestnut Ridge completely with Appalachian Regional Healthcare resources, but it could not have been THIS complex, either this comprehensive or this nice. When CEO Richard Sparks led ARHS to acquire Blowing Rock Hospital, even with the uphill battle it faced, he made a pledge to this town and to the High Country community to keep a high quality healthcare presence in Blowing Rock. A top-rate, highest quality Foley Center dedicated to post-acute care and the primary care clinic that will now bear the historic Davant name are a fulfillment not only of that promise, but an important completion of the continuum of care — from birth to end-stage and everything in between — that Richard Sparks envisioned for the High Country several years ago.”
In answer to an audience question, Hudspeth acknowledged that The Foley Center and the primary care clinic will be admitting patients sometime between August and September (after passing all regulatory inspections). He also indicated a that the previously planned grand opening ceremony with North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is still scheduled for July 15, 2016.