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July 25, 2014

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The current Blowing Rock Hospital is expected to be replaced by the Blowing Rock Post-Acute
Care Center in the coming years.
Kellen Moore | Watauga Democrat

Originally published: 2012-06-15 10:18:26
Last modified: 2012-06-15 10:21:26

Additional acreage purchased for new hospital

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has purchased 24 additional acres outside Blowing Rock, and plans are moving forward on the proposed Blowing Rock Post-Acute Care Center.

The new medical campus, to be located off Summit Meadow Lane adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway, will replace the current Blowing Rock Hospital and is intended to provide a state-of-the-art facility for the care of aging or infirm adults.

The hospitals purchased a 43-acre property for $2.95 million in March 2011, which was annexed later that year by the town of Blowing Rock.

The new 24.8-acre tract is adjacent to the first plot and was purchased in April for $1.5 million from Peoples Bank, according to the deed. The parcel stretches along U.S. 321 from the Edmisten Road intersection almost to Roaring River Drive.

The healthcare system submitted a petition June 5 for voluntary annexation by the town of Blowing Rock, a request the Blowing Rock Town Council received at its meeting Tuesday. A public hearing is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. July 10 on the matter.

The annexation requests connection to town water and sewer.

The hospital system also has reached a tentative agreement with Glenbridge Health and Rehabilitation in an effort to confirm state approval of the Blowing Rock project.

Both parties battled last year for the allocation of 30 additional nursing care beds through the state’s certificate of need process. A certificate of need must be obtained anytime a new health facility is constructed or when other changes are made that impact the number of beds available.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System intended to add those beds to the new post-acute care center, while Glenbridge planned to expand its current facility on Milton Brown Heirs Road.

After a lengthy review process, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services denied the Glenbridge request in October 2011 and awarded conditional approval to the Blowing Rock project.

Glenbridge — through its parent companies Lynnhaven II and Borum Healthcare — appealed the decision, so the certificate of need was never actually issued, said project analyst Fatimah Wilson.

Wilson said the parties then chose to work out an agreement in mediation, and they resubmitted a new certificate of need request to the state May 15.

As part of the anticipated settlement, the new CON asks to move 20 adult care home beds from Glenbridge to the Post-Acute Care Center when it is built.

In exchange, the hospital would seek only 20 of the available 30 nursing care beds and Glenbridge would seek the remaining 10, Baker said earlier this week.

Adult care beds refers to an assisted living-type situation in which residents need only occasional medical care, while nursing beds are reserved for those with chronic ailments who need more regular care.

Baker did not say whether any other exchanges were part of the deal, nothing that she was “not privy to the proposed settlement.”

Mike McKillip, project analyst for the new certificate of need request, said his early evaluation has not revealed any red flags in the proposal.

Interested parties can share comments with the state by writing to the Certificate of Need Section, 2704 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-2704 and referencing Project #D-8829-12.

The agency is expected to make its decision within 90 days of June 1, but there is a possibility the process could be extended anther 60 days, McKillip said. That decision could be appealed as well.

If the state approves the plans, work may progress on the Blowing Rock Post-Acute Care Center. As described in August 2011 by Blowing Rock Hospital CEO Tim Ford, the center is expected to feature a neighborhood design concept that represents a change from the long corridors previously common in extended care centers.

It also is expected to include a broad spectrum of services, including an Alzheimer’s unit.

The development was slated to cost $19.2 million and be complete by October 2013, but it’s not clear how the new changes may affect the cost and completion date.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is holding a public meeting from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 20 at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum to share more information about the project.
For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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