Despite setbacks and challenges, a Community Health Center in western North Carolina has been given a second opportunity to pursue their mission “to enhance the health of individuals and families within the community, with emphasis on the underserved.” Blue Ridge Community Health Services (BRCHS) opened as a Migrant Health Center in 1963, making it one of the oldest active Migrant Health Centers in the country. They became a Community Health Center in 1988 and currently serve almost 17,000 patients annually in western North Carolina and surrounding areas. BRCHS is located in Hendersonville, which is about 20 minutes from Asheville, NC.
“A medical home, without a home”
Recently, BRCHS faced a serious challenge to their survival. They were forced to vacate their original building — a 60+ year old farmhouse — due to health, safety and structural issues. They applied for a Facility Improvement grant under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), but they unfortunately were not funded, so their original building was demolished. They then functioned in temporary donated space making them “a medical home, without a home.” Fortunately, they were recently notified that their project would be funded under the Capital Development provisions of the Affordable Care Act, so they set out to build a new world-class facility to meet the primary care medical needs the people of Hendersonville and surrounding communities.
The facility will have 24 exam rooms, four consult rooms, two treatment rooms for family medicine and pediatrics, and a pharmacy on the first floor. The second floor will include radiology and laboratory services, which are being offered in collaboration with Pardee Hospital.
BRCHS Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Henderson is excited about what the completion of this project means for the people in that community. “We anticipate seeing patients in our new building starting Monday, September 26,” said Henderson. “However, the project calls for some additional demolition of adjacent buildings once we move in and start patient care, therefore, the completion of the entire project is anticipated for a few weeks later.”
This new medical facility may actually be one of the first projects of a large magnitude to be completed with the support of the ACA-Capital Development funding. More importantly though, the community that depends on their quality, affordable care will soon have their permanent medical home back.