Construction begins on ECU Service Learning Center at Blue Ridge Regional

Press release

From Blue Ridge Regional Hospital:

SPRUCE PINE, N.C. (Sept. 27, 2013) –Construction is underway at the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital campus for the site of the new East Carolina University Service Learning Center. The hospital and the ECU School of Dental Medicine are partnering to provide dental care to the rural regions of western North Carolina.

“We are proud to partner with East Carolina University to increase access to dental care services for the people in Mitchell, Avery and Yancey counties. This forward-thinking program will help us meet our BIG(GER) Aim: to get each patient to the desired outcome, without harm, without waste and with an exceptional experience for the patient and family,” said Oscar K. Weinmeister, III, FACHE, President and CEO of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. “Our community should also acknowledge past Blue Ridge Regional Hospital CEO Keith Holtsclaw and former Mitchell County Economic Development Director Becky Anderson for their substantial roles in the planning stages for this project.”

At the ECU Service Learning Center, students and residents will study and work under faculty supervisors in a group practice environment to provide dental services to the community while also developing clinical skills. Groups of four to six student and residents will complete three, nine-week rotations at the Service Learning Center. The faculty, staff, students and residents will live and work in the Mitchell County area.

“The groundbreaking of the East Carolina University Dental Service Learning Center is the beginning of an exciting time in Mitchell County,” said Bill Slagle, Chairman of the Mitchell County Board of Commissioners. “The dental school project has been an ongoing collaboration with the Mitchell County Commissioners, Mitchell County Economic Development Commission, the Town of Spruce Pine and Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. It is a collaboration that we will be proud to have in our community. Currently, the healthcare industry in Mitchell County provides more than 400 jobs, and this expansion of services will continue the growth of our local economy. This project alone will provide 12 high-paying, skilled jobs for our citizens and supply a much-needed service for our community. ”

The goal for this program is to serve the rural areas of western North Carolina, in the hopes that students will return to these areas to live and work as practitioners. Student residents will also be involved in local schools, where they will provide education on oral care to improve youth healthcare.

In addition to the excitement of starting construction, we are looking forward to being in Spruce Pine providing care while students and residents continue their education. Our partnership with Blue Ridge Regional Hospital and community leaders played a crucial role in deciding the location of the Service Learning Center,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, Dean of the School of Dental Medicine at East Carolina University. “Blue Ridge Regional Hospital’s partnership and the enthusiasm of the Mitchell, Avery and Yancey communities—combined with the opportunity to have this Service Learning Center—will make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

The ECU Service Learning Center is expected to open by August 2014.

About Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, based in Spruce Pine, N.C., is a not-for-profit hospital and serves Mitchell, Yancey, lower Avery and upper McDowell counties. Blue Ridge Regional Hospital has provided excellent healthcare services for the region since 1955. Cleverley & Associates has recognized Blue Ridge Regional Hospital as a Community Value 5-Star Hospital for 10 consecutive years. Medical specialties offered by Blue Ridge include emergency services, OB services, critical care, rehabilitation services and fitness center, cancer services, orthopedics, general surgical services, pain management, pediatrics, family medicine, sleep disorders and wound care. In addition, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital offers clinics for the following specialties: allergy and asthma; cardiology, dermatology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology; ophthalmology and kidney care (nephrology). Blue Ridge Regional Hospital employs 450 people and is a member of Mission Health, recognized in 2012 and 2013 as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems by Thomson Reuters and Truven Health Analytics, respectively. For more information, please visit

About Mission Health
Mission Health, based in Asheville, N.C., is the state’s sixth-largest health system and the region’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina. Mission Health was recognized as one of the nation’s Top 15 Health Systems in 2012 and 2013 by Thomson Reuters and Truven Health Analytics, respectively. Mission Health is one of only two medium-sized health systems to receive this recognition in 2012 and 2013, and the only health system in North Carolina to achieve that distinction.
Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates five hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers and the region’s only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub- specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Mission Children’s Hospital, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma and Women’s Health. Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system’s flagship hospital and is licensed for 730 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care. It also includes Mission Children’s Hospital—the region’s only children’s hospital. Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard. With approximately 9,500 employees and 700 volunteers, Mission Health is dedicated to improving the health and wellness of the people of western North Carolina. For more information, please visit mission- ###


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