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Well-Spring Retirement Community No Longer in Plans to be Partner of New Blowing Rock Healthcare Center

By Paul T. Choate

Outline of the plans for the new facility. Click to enlarge.

Aug. 7, 2012. Plans for Blowing Rock’s new healthcare center, Appalachian Place at Chestnut Ridge, are moving along steadily. The Greensboro-based Well-Spring retirement community, however, is no longer part of those plans.

Well-Spring conducted an exploratory investigation to determine if their model for a retirement community would be feasible in the High Country.

In a statement released on July 30 by Richard Sparks, president and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS), Well-Spring concluded that, “the appropriate level of operational and financial integration necessary to sustain a continuing care retirement community cannot be achieved under current circumstances.”

Rob Hudspeth, senior vice president, system advancement for ARHS, said this has not affected plans to construct the Appalachian Place facility, which is scheduled to begin in early 2013.

“What is important to know and to distinguish is that the two projects – the post-acute care facility and the Well-Spring project – have always been separate. Our plan has always been to build a replacement facility for the Blowing Rock Hospital so that we can provide a full continuum of quality healthcare for the High Country.”

Hudspeth added that the relationship between ARHS and Well-Spring remains positive.

As for the possibility of a retirement community at Appalachian Place, ARHS is looking into new options now.

Hudspeth said plans for a retirement community on the property are still in the works and that it is just a matter of figuring out a model that will work and who a new partner will be.

“We believe there are many models for retirement communities that can successfully operate on the campus of Appalachian Place at Chestnut Ridge,” said Hudspeth. “We are forming a task force whose sole purpose will be to explore other opportunities for a retirement community – one that will fully complement our post-acute care facility.”

The task force will be made up of Blowing Rock residents, ARHS board members and “a broad representation of members of the community.”

According to Hudspeth, no new candidates for a partnership have been identified yet and no timetable has been established on finding one, adding that it is contingent on the actions of the task force.

About Appalachian Place at Chestnut Ridge

The $20 million facility, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2014, will be located on U.S. Highway 321, settled on 68 acres just north of the Blue Ridge Parkway exit. The new facility will not be called a “hospital,” and will focus on post-acute care services while utilizing Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital for acute patient care. The facility is planned to have 112 beds and will incorporate a “neighborhood concept,” including a rehabilitation wing, an extended care wing, a memory support wing and a primary care outpatient clinic. 

Upon completion of Appalachian Place, the current Blowing Rock Hospital, located on Chestnut Drive in downtown Blowing Rock, will be closed and put up for sale. Proceeds from the sale will go entirely to funding the construction and operation of the new facility.

For more information about ARHS, visit apprhs.org.