By Paul T. Choate
June 20, 2012. On Wednesday, June 20, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) held a meeting at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum to illustrate the plans for Blowing Rock’s new healthcare center, Appalachian Place at Chestnut Ridge Center for Healthy Living and Rehabilitation.
The $20 million facility, anticipated to be completed 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 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.
The new healthcare center will be further funded by donations from private citizens. ARHS set a goal of $7 million dollars in private funding and $4.1 million has already been raised. ARHS President and CEO Richard Sparks said at the June 20 meeting that he is now raising the goal to $10 million in wake of how much has already been raised.
“I am surprised to hear that the goal has been increased to $10 million,” said Jerry Hutchens, ARHS senior vice president of system advancement, with a laugh.
“We can do some simple things that are not very expensive and get to where we need to be,” said ARHS president and CEO Richard Sparks.
In addition to post-acute care services, it is possible that an assisted living retirement community could become part of the development. Greensboro’s Well-Spring continuing care retirement community has established a partnership with ARHS and an analysis is currently in progress on the feasibility of a continuing care retirement community operating in Blowing Rock.
For the Blowing Rock economy, the new facility could potentially be very beneficial. The facility will generate approximately $20 million in construction costs, as well as sustaining over 100 healthcare positions.
Appalachian State University (ASU) will also be involved. The ASU College of Heath Sciences will be using the site to conduct research as well as training healthcare professionals across many disciplines.
According to Sparks, the Town of Blowing Rock has been extremely supportive of the new facility.
“The Town of Blowing Rock has been unbelievable in terms of a partner,” said Sparks. “We asked them to annex the property — they did it. The water and sewer is going to be relatively expensive — they’re working on that.”
Much of the acreage for Appalachian Place will be retained for future development. According to an ARHS statement, “It is imperative to provide a full continuum of care for High Country residents and visitors, including post-acute care. With the addition of this new facility, ARHS will be able to enhance its provisions of continuing care and aging services for the healthcare system, thus meeting the requirements of patients across the full range of health care needs.”
Architectural designs are being provided by Perkins+Will. Appalachain Place construction is expected to be contracted to Vannoy Construction, according to Sparks.
“We have a plan, we have a vision, and it’s going to work,” said Sparks.
For more information about ARHS, visit apprhs.org.
For more information about Well-Spring, visit well-spring.org.
For more information about Vannoy Construction, jrvannoy.com.
For more information about Perkins+Will, visit perkinswill.com.
Slides from presentation