HCHF to increase primary care access

  • The Highlands-Cashiers Health Foundation plans to bring a primary care practice to the Highlands-Cashiers area..
    The Highlands-Cashiers Health Foundation plans to bring a primary care practice to the Highlands-Cashiers area..

The Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation is planning to expand access to primary care for Highlands-Cashiers plateau residents. 

The expanded health care coverage is being made possible by funding a new practice that includes a rural teaching program in conjunction with the University of North Carolina Health Sciences program. 

According to HCHF Associate Director Ashlie Mitchell-Lanning, the new HCHF partnership includes Blue Ridge Health and the Mountain Area Health Education Center. 

“This collaboration exemplifies the fulfillment of the HCHF’s mission to improve the health and well-being of Highlands, Cashiers, and surrounding communities,” Mitchell-Lanning said in a written statement.

HCHF Chairman Dr. Walter Clark said this new project is an ambitious undertaking and is sorely needed. 

“We acknowledge from the outset this project’s scope is wide and our goal and related objectives are ambitious requiring significant contributions of time, talent and treasure from the partners and members of the community,” Clark said. “However, we know with the determination of these partners along with the philanthropic passion of this community, we are on the road to a true success.” 

Clark spoke on Tuesday as to how this will help alleviate the shortage of quality medical care in the Highlands-Cashiers area. 

“The partnership will work toward the goal of opening a primary care clinic in the Highlands-Cashiers area that will provide universal access to healthcare for the population of Highlands and Cashiers as well as the workforce that travels from other communities throughout Macon and Jackson Counties,” Clark said. “The long-standing problem of access to primary care in the area was among the primary drivers in the formation of this partnership and its dual focus on immediately and directly expanding primary care access, while simultaneously increasing the long-term stability of the communities on the plateau.”

 While a set time has yet to be determined for the facility to open, HCHF is currently in the process of recruiting physicians and staff to operate the clinic.

“This is definitely happening because of the community’s passionate need for more primary healthcare,” Clark said.

Clark said as the process continues future announcements would be forthcoming regarding the timeline and physician team that will serve the area. 

“In the meantime, residents can be assured that we are working toward access to universal, integrated healthcare and an increased supply of healthcare providers for the area,” he said. 

Blue Ridge Health is a nonprofit healthcare system that works closely with communities to meet the healthcare needs of the region. With 28 locations throughout Western North Carolina, BRH offers primary care, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health and nutrition services that prioritize the patient care experience.

Mountain Area Health Education Center was established in 1974 and is a leader in healthcare, education, and innovation. Located in Asheville, MAHEC serves a 16-county region in Western North Carolina and is one of nine Area Health Education Centers in North Carolina. 

For more information, contact HCHF at 828-482-6510 or visit www.hchealthfnd.org.