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Hospital unveils 10-year master facility plan
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Hospital unveils 10-year master facility plan

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A 10-year $195.5 million master facility plan was recently approved for Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge that will offer construction and renovation projects for the two hospital campuses and long-term facilities in Burke County.

Over the past year, employees and CEO and President Kathy Bailey have been working and gathering information about the needs of the hospitals to implement in the plan.

“It’s been months and months of work with a lot of detail, data and thinking about what is best for the future of Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge,” Bailey said in a press release. “There will be adjustments because health care needs, community needs and financial situations will change.”

This decision being made means that CHCSBR is for “investing in the community,” she said.

Currently, the plan calls for a new facility on the Valdese Campus for cancer treatment services, outpatient services, physical therapy, and operating rooms. The wound care center and pain management clinic will be moved to the current Medical Office Building, the release said.

Construction on the Valdese campus is planned to start next year.

On the Morganton campus, construction will start with renovations to the neonatal intensive care unit and inpatient improvements.

In the future, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge plans to build a tower next to the new surgery suites to the left of the current hospital. This new addition will be the home to a new emergency department, intensive care unit and lab, the release said.

The tower will look similar to the operating wing that was opened on the Morganton facility in February, said Anna Wilson, who works in the marketing and business development with the hospital.

“It will have windows because it will have patient rooms,” Wilson said.

The size of the tower was not been confirmed yet, but the building will have the ability to have stories added on or an expansion outward, she said.

The plan also includes Blue Ridge’s long-term care facilities including College Pines and Grace Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers , both of which are slated to recieve new finishes and facility upgrades. Grace Ridge Retirement Community will continue the upgrades and renovations that started in 2013.

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Overall , the plan splits the $195.5 million into three different investments. Routine capital investments , which will cost $21 million, strategic investment will equal $161.5 million and the rest of the cost will go toward infrastructure repair and maintenance investment at $13 million .

The No. 1 focus for the coming years will be the Valdese campus, the release said.

The Valdese hospital, built in 1959, has floors that have not been in use since all inpatient services moved to the Morganton campus in 2014, the release said.

“We had already decided to make it an outpatient surgery center so the new facility will meet those needs very well,” said Jon Mercer, senior vice president and chief operations officer. “The old facility does not lend itself to growing outpatient services.”

The new facility will be specifically designed for outpatient services and cancer treatment.

“Those are two very strong anchors for what we want to do in Valdese,” Mercer said.

“This plan will take us into the future,” Bailey said. “We were to the point where we had to do something on our campuses to meet the community’s needs. There just isn’t enough money to do all we would like to do.”

The plan will be funded by investment income and the bond market , the release said .

“Part of this project will be funded by selling investments in the hospital’s portfolio such as mutual funds, stocks, etc,” Mercer said in an email. “Part of the project will be funded by us selling bonds.”

When nonprofits and municipalities need to raise a great deal of money, the public can purchase bonds which have a guaranteed return on investment. According to Mercer, the hospital’s bond rating s are in great standing.

“Both ratings are really good for an organization our size,” he said in the email. “People can buy our bonds with the expectation they will get paid back with interest. A poor bond rating means the investment is risky.”

The last part of the project will be funded through the money we bring in from providing services to our patients, Mercer said.

“To commit this organization to almost $200 million over the next 10 years is a huge decision,” Bailey said in the release. “It’s been a long, arduous process, but I think we’ve figured out the best way to address the future of health care here in Burke County.”

Staff Writer Jonelle Bobak can be reached at jbobak@morganton.com or 828-432-8907.

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