Registered nurse Robyn Sadle isn’t a native of Western North Carolina, but over the three years she’s lived here and worked at Mission Hospital, she says, “I’ve been overwhelmed at the community support and how much this area is committed to making sure that they have a good health care system.”
Sadle and her colleagues at Mission Hospital have recently been feeling the love from all corners of the community, with restaurants delivering meals around the clock, schools and businesses manufacturing personal protective equipment for medical workers and local residents stepping forward to donate masks and other supplies.
“As we navigate these difficult and uncertain times, Mission Hospital has truly appreciated the generous outpouring of support we are receiving from our community. Our team members are uplifted and find encouragement from the kindness our neighbors have shown us, and I share their sincere gratitude,” says Chad Patrick, CEO of Mission Hospital.
At least 20 different food businesses have delivered meals for Mission staffers, according to Mission spokesperson Nancy Lindell.
Health care providers explore new formats
While there’s no doubt the crisis created by COVID-19 is placing local and national health care systems and providers under tremendous strain, it’s also becoming increasingly clear that the disease is functioning as a catalyst for health care innovations and adaptations.
A wide range of local providers have announced new or expanded telehealth options, including Pardee UNC Health, Mission Health, the Charles George VA Medical Center, Mountain Area Health Education Center, Blue Ridge Health and even the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic at 369 Montford Ave.
“It’s 2020, and telemedicine is here, now, for everyone who needs it,” comments Cissy Majebe, a Chinese medicine physician and founder of the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic.
Eleanor Health, an addiction and mental health service provider, opened a virtual clinic in Asheville on April 16. Services include medication-assisted treatment, psychiatric management, therapy and recovery support and are available online to anyone living in North Carolina. Limited walk-in hours and in-person appointments are also available at 39 McDowell St. The clinic is the fifth of 10-15 locations the company plans to open in the state this year. More information is available at eleanorhealth.com.
Another sign of the times is Pardee UNC Health’s designation of its Fletcher Urgent Care at 2695 Hendersonville Road as a respiratory clinic, with its other two urgent care facilities in Mills River and Hendersonville reserved for patients not experiencing respiratory symptoms. The move is designed to “maximize patient safety and minimize unnecessary exposure to coronavirus or other respiratory illness,” according to a press release.
Among other changes, the Charles George VA Medical Center began offering curbside pharmacy service to allow veterans to refill prescriptions without leaving their vehicles. Overnight mail delivery is also an option.
And at the state level, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a variety of modifications of regulations affecting Medicaid recipients, including coverage for telehealth services and 90-day prescription refills to reduce the frequency of pharmacy visits.
Child abuse awareness even more important during crisis
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and brightly colored pinwheels mark its annual observance. This year, with schools closed and social distancing mandated by state and local officials, children are at increased risk of abuse and neglect, says Laura Phipps, a physician assistant at the Believe Child Advocacy Center in Hendersonville, where she provides forensic exams for victims of child abuse.
Teachers and school support staff account for one in five reports of abuse, Phipps says. Pediatricians and other health care providers, as well as extended family members and friends, are also less frequently in contact with children right now and thus are less able to observe and report signs of abuse or neglect.
“Most child abuse and neglect occurs in the home,” says Victoria Dunkle, director of communications for AdventHealth Hendersonville, which is displaying a pinwheel garden on the front lawn of its main campus. “With parents and caregivers confronted with daily, increasing financial, emotional and physical stressors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, child advocacy teams anticipate seeing increases in cases of abuse.”
To check in with a child during a time of social distancing, Phipps suggests using Facetime or Google Hangouts. To report a potential case of abuse or neglect, she advises, contact your county’s department of social services.
Potential location for behavioral health hospital announced
As part of the deal for its Feb. 1, 2019, purchase of Mission Health, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare committed to building a behavioral health hospital with at least 120 beds within five years. Now HCA has announced a potential location for the facility off Crayton Road near Sweeten Creek Road and Interstate 40.
Initial plans are for a one-level, 85,000-square-foot facility on 25 acres of land. “We are at the beginning phase of a process that will take time to complete,” Mission officials said in a statement. “During this phase, we will be doing due diligence to ensure the location is the right place for our behavioral health hospital.” No timeline or cost information has been announced.
Mission currently serves patients requiring mental health treatment at its 82-bed Copestone facility, which is located on the former St. Joseph campus across Biltmore Avenue from the new Mission Hospital North Tower. According to Mission spokesperson Nancy Lindell, Copestone is the largest inpatient behavioral health facility in the region and serves emergency department patients from all of Mission’s regional hospitals.
The new facility will be 32% larger than Copestone and provide inpatient and outpatient care for adolescent, adult and geriatric patients.