1000 x 90

Ribbon Cutting Held at Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge in Blowing Rock on Friday

Blowing Rock Mayor JB Lawrence, NC Secretary of Transportation Nick Tennyson, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System CEO Richard Sparks and ARHS Senior Vice President of System Advancement Rob Hudspeth. Photo by Jesse Wood

By Jesse Wood

On a foggy Friday afternoon, just before the ribbon cutting ceremony of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge facility, Blowing Rock Mayor JB Lawrence spoke to the importance of the new post-acute care center to the beloved village.

“Because if a community does not have a first-class healthcare facility, it is a dying community, and I never want to see Blowing Rock die. We always want it to be here and flourish,” Lawrence said.

Atop 68 acres, The Foley Center is an 87,500-square-foot, 112-bed healthcare facility features on-site physicians, short and long-term care, skilled nursing, rehabilitation services, memory support, assisted living and palliative care. ARHS says that this center will serve as a cost-saving alternative for patients healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital (post-acute), but not quite ready to safely return home.

The facility features private and semi-private bedrooms, a rehabilitation gym, community dining areas and six living rooms – all with a view. The attached Davant Medical Clinic and Boone Drug’s Village Pharmacy are scheduled to open on the property later this fall.

Also speaking at the event were NC Secretary of Transportation Nick Tennyson, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System CEO Richard Sparks and ARHS Senior Vice President of System Advancement Rob Hudspeth.

The Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge is named after Dennis and Diane Foley, as the lead donors gave $3.5 million for this construction project. In 2002, Diane was diagnosed with lymphoma and after two years of treatment under the care of Dr. Herman Godwin at ARHS’ Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Cneter, she was declared cancer free, according to a ARHS release announcing the gift last June.

Diane and Dennis Foley
Diane and Dennis Foley

The Foleys were among the three thanks that Sparks gave out to either individuals or entities regarding sharing ARHS vision and donating generously to the project. Sparks said his themes were based on “sharing,” “catching the spirit” and “commitment.”

The Foleys fell into the “sharing” category.

“They gave us flexibility to pursue what this community really needed in terms of the delivery of quality healthcare. It is very unusual for someone to make those kind of contributions that they did and say spend it the way you need,” Sparks said.

He also thanked Jerry Hutchins for “catching the spirit” of the project. Prior to Sparks talking Hutchins out of retirement to perform a similar role, Hutchins worked as the Vice Chancellor for Advancement at Appalachian State, and his passion was evident.

“He caught the spirit of this project and told everyone he met why it should be built and did so with a passion and explained why you would want to be apart of this,” Sparks said. “Thank you for your spirit.”

He added that Hutchins also came up with the “Chestnut Ridge” moniker that is named after the road that leads to the old Blowing Rock Hospital property adjacent to downtown Blowing Rock.

Lastly, Sparks praised the State of North Carolina and the N.C. Department of Transportation for the funding the construction of the winding road up to the facility and the access bridge, which was named in honor of Reba and Grady Moretz of App Ski Mtn. at U.S. 321.

Sparks noted that the state could have backed out of their promise (i.e., commitment) to build access over the past several years. He also noted that it was “very unusual” for a project two cross over into two administrations – and succeed.

Gov. Pat McCrory was scheduled to attend the ceremony but changed his plans after a police officer in Shelby was shot and killed, according to his stand-in, Sec. Tennyson, who spoke for 10 minutes at the event.

Following the ceremony, McCrory’s administration issued a press release on the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.

“This is a great day for western North Carolina’s economy, health care and overall quality of life,” Governor McCrory said. “The Foley Center will help fulfill two of our team’s central philosophies: to get people back to work and help those who can’t help themselves while encouraging those who can.”

For more information about the facility, click here.

Photos below by Ken Ketchie

Director of Corporate Communications & Community Outreach – ARHS Vicki Stevens and VP Corporate Communications at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System Gillian Baker


Musicians were on hand to provide entertainment.