Domestic violence nonprofit opens new Hendersonville facility

NEW DIGS: Executive Director Lauren Wilkie says Safelight's new facility pulls together three services previously in separate locations: the Child Advocacy Center, the Counseling Center and the Family Advocacy Center. Photo courtesy of Safelight

Safelight, a Hendersonville nonprofit that supports survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new facility June 29.

Executive Director Lauren Wilkie says the new space at 317 N. Washington St., Hendersonville, pulls together three services previously in separate locations: the Child Advocacy Center, the Counseling Center and the Family Advocacy Center. “Those programs are now in a building we own within walking distance to our other programs,” Wilkie explains. The services mean a parent or child “doesn’t  have to go four or five places around town telling their story over and over” when seeking care after abuse or assault, she continues.

Safelight’s new facility also contains dedicated spaces for partner organizations, including Pisgah Legal Services, The Free Clinics and the Henderson County District Attorney’s Office. Previously these partners shared a communal space.

Safelight provided help for about 800 unduplicated people in 2017, Wilkie says; by 2021, that figure had increased to 1,200. Its Child Advocacy Center, for children and teens experiencing abuse and neglect, saw a 34% increase from 2020-21. “It was our highest year to date since we started that program,” says Wilkie.

The nonprofit’s Counseling Center, which provides free counseling to children, teens and adults, experienced a 43% increase in the use of counseling services by adults and children during 2019-20, Wilkie says. “COVID has been a very strong factor in so many more people seeking help, because of isolation and increased stressors from COVID — more substance use and more time in the home,” explains Wilkie. “So that means more abuse occurred. It’s sad.”

Safelight’s shelter, which has 40 beds for adults and children fleeing violence or sexual abuse, and Dandelion, its cafe providing on-the-job training for survivors, remain at their current locations in Hendersonville. More information is at

Public hearing Aug. 12 for hospital applications

Three local hospital systems have filed certificate of need applications to build hospitals serving Buncombe, Graham, Yancey and Madison counties. The 2022 State Medical Facilities Plan determined a need for 67 additional acute care beds by 2024.

The three hospital systems are Mission Health, which proposes to add to its existing campus in Asheville, Novant Health and Surgery Partners, which proposes a new building in Asheville, and Adventist Health System Sunbelt Healthcare Corp., which proposes a new building in Candler.

A public hearing about the three applications is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 12, 9:30 a.m., in the Ferguson Auditorium at A-B Tech, 19 Tech Drive. Written comments about the proposals can be submitted until Friday, Aug. 5, 5 p.m. via email to

Mission Health funds 3 nursing instructors

Mission Health will fund one nursing instructor each at three local universities, the hospital system announced in a press release May 25. A full-time faculty member will join A-B Tech, Blue Ridge Community College and Western Carolina University.

Each instructor may teach 10 students, which should allow for an increase of 30 students receiving nursing education.  “Funding a role at each of these schools is one of the steps we are taking to help relieve the nursing shortage and help qualified applicants attend our local schools,” said chief nurse executive Fran Paschall in a press release.

Buncombe offers COVID vaccines to children

The Buncombe County Health and Human Services Department is providing COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 6 months to 5 years.

On June 17, the Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for children between 6 months and 4 years. The Moderna vaccine was arppoved for children between 6 months and 5 years June 18. According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the Pfizer vaccine is administered in a series of three shots (two shots and a booster) over seven weeks, while the Moderna vaccine is administered in two shots over six weeks.

The immunization clinic is located at 40 Coxe Ave., Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. COVID-19 vaccinations are free. No appointment is necessary. For more information, visit

Galen College of Nursing opens Asheville campus

Galen College of Nursing, a regional nursing school, is opening a campus at 30 Town Square Blvd., Suite #220, in Biltmore Park. The campus will initially offer three educational tracks: a three-year Bachelor of Science in nursing degree, a 2-year associate degree in nursing and a licensed practical nurse to associate degree in nursing bridge option (LPN to ADN Bridge).

HCA Healthcare, the for-profit company that purchased Mission Hospital in 2019, purchased Galen College of Nursing in 2020, according to an HCA press release. Full- and part-time employees of Mission Health may be eligible for up to $5,250 per calendar year in reimbursements for tuition, books and other class-related fees.

Admission for Galen’s fall 2022 semester is open. For more information, call 877-223-7040 or visit

French Broad Fire Rescue receives CPR system

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation gifted a Defibtech Lifeline ARM Chest Compression System, which performs CPR during cardiac arrest, to the French Broad Volunteer Fire & Rescue June 14. The device was purchased with a $10,600 grant from the nationwide restaurant chain’s foundation.

Firefighters received the chest compression device in a ceremony at the Firehouse Subs franchise in Weaverville.

Movers and shakers

  • UNC Pardee Health Care named infection preventionist Ivan Gowe its 2022 health care provider of the year.
  • AdventHealth Hendersonville welcomed Timothy Bell, RN, as Director of Surgery Services.
  • Certified physician assistant Eric Ho joined Pardee Bariatrics and General Surgery within Pardee UNC Healthcare. Ho earned a Master of Health Sciences degree in the Physician Assistant Program at Duke University.
  • Restor Metabolix has opened a clinic in Asheville at 18 Medical Park Drive, Apt. F. The clinic provides treatment for metabolic disorders such as prediabetes, Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. For more information visit

Mark your calendars

  • The Asheville Triathlon is Sunday, July 17, 7:30a.m.-noon at Asheville Recreation Park Pool, 65 Gashes Creek Road. The triathlon consists of a pool swim, a run and a bike course. For more information, visit
  • AdventHealth geriatric care manager Lisa Kauffman will lead a seminar on caregiver wellness in partnership with the Council on Aging of Hendersonville. The seminar is Monday, July 25, 5:30-7:00 p.m., at AdventHealth Medical Group Multispecialty at Laurel Park, 1881 Pisgah Drive, Hendersonville. Call 855-744-5433 to register.
  • The Asheville chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America is holding a virtual meeting over Zoom Tuesday, July 26, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Contact for a link to the meeting.
  • The Light Up the Night 5K will take place Friday, Aug. 5, 7:30-9:30 p.m., at Carrier Park, 220 Amboy Road. The 5K is a fundraiser for Western Carolina Rescue Ministries, a nonprofit serving the homeless population. For more information, visit
  • Highlands-Cashiers Hospital will offer free health screenings at the Mountain Top Rotary’s 2022 Art and Craft Show in Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park, 440 Pine Street, Cashiers, Aug. 27-28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. There will be free glucose screenings and body mass index readings, and physicians will be available to speak with people.

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About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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