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WNC Business

Expanding access to care also expands diversity in the community

Feb 21, 2024 11:33AM ● By Randee Brown

North Carolina determined a need for 67 additional acute care beds to meet the needs of Buncombe, Graham, Madison, and Yancey Counties from a health needs assessment in 2022. To meet those needs, AdventHealth is planning to add a new location, according to AdventHealth’s Communication and PR Director Victoria Dunkle.

Seeing an increase in the number of patients and providers saying they want more access to whole-person care, Dunkle said AdventHealth had already been thinking about how to meet that request. 

“When we found out about the State’s need, we put together an application, and we were honored that the State had said yes to us,” Dunkle said. “We take that trust very seriously.”

The new location must provide easy access for patients, avoiding congestion of the downtown Asheville area. AdventHealth had considered a property in the Candler area, but after due diligence, realized that property would not meet the needs of the hospital.

“We’re keeping the outlined service areas at the forefront of the placement decision,” Dunkle said. “There are lots of parameters and aspects to weigh in, and we are committed to meeting the needs of people reaching out for services in Henderson County as well as surrounding counties with additional centers to expand our service area.”

The approved application for the $50 million project allows the nonprofit to reinvest its revenue in the community and includes a medical surgical unit, labor and delivery with The Baby Place, and an intensive care unit. Dunkle said available services will be similar to those of AdventHealth Hendersonville’s location which includes cardio-thoracic, OBGYN, ophthalmology, oral and dental surgery, ENT, podiatry, urology, a 12-room emergency department, dedicated C-section rooms, and more.

“We’re a community hospital that will meet what the state said is needed, as well as meet the growing demand for more service options closer to where people live,” Dunkle said.

With the addition of so many services, there is an opportunity for many people to begin or continue their careers in healthcare in the region. Having received several accolades from multiple national publications as a positive place to work, Dunkle said individuals will likely be eager to fill positions created by this addition.

“Our whole-person care philosophy extends to our team members,” Dunkle said. “Entry-level workers can begin their career path having benefits. We are also seeing a lot of engagement from team members who make people feel included and like they are a part of a family, and the word is getting out.”

AdventHealth also broke ground on Hendersonville’s new Medical Office Building in October 2023. Dunkle said 2024 will be a big year for growing the hospital’s family of providers and growing access for the community in both Buncombe and Henderson counties.

To help supply the additional workforce needed to staff the new facilities, AdventHealth works to grow relationships with students at local community colleges. Nursing, residency, clinical, and certified medical assistant programs help bring awareness of opportunities to students, and training programs allow individuals to apply for a position and earn wages during training periods.

There is also a recruitment program for upper level positions, and Dunkle said doctors are expressing interest in becoming part of the AdventHealth team.

“We want the best physicians here in our community,” Dunkle said. “The potential influx of new physicians blending with those awaiting their next career move creates an amazing team. Those bringing their families and relocating here adds vibrance and diversity to our community; just another plus to our expansion.”