Groundbreaking for new Union General primary care facility
Hayesville, N.C. – On September 16, 2019, Union General Hospital hosted a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of its new primary care facility along Route 69 in Clay County. This followed the award of a grant provided by the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA), which will assist Union General in the construction of the new 6,000 square foot facility. Clay County Board of Commissioners’ Chairman, Dr. Rob Peck, noted the long standing presence of Hayesville Family Practice, an affiliate of the Union General Health System within the County. He stated, “This new state of the art facility reflects Union General’s renewed commitment of dedicated service to the communities of Clay County and the surrounding area. Expanding access to affordable primary, specialty, and emergency care within our communities has been an ongoing priority of our Board. We remain committed to that objective. Union General’s new facility will help meet those needs. We are very thankful for their investment in Clay County.”
CEO Kevin Bierschenk said that, “Union General will be recruiting a locally-based physician, as well as other medical practitioners who are directly grounded within the community.” He added, “the investment by Union General will lead to the creation of good jobs, particularly at higher skill levels, which was the basis of the funding received through the RIA program.”
The hospital announced that it hopes to have the facility operational within approximately nine to twelve months. The site is located next to United Community Bank and plans to be open five days a week. The facility will create and retain as many as 10 jobs and bring more than $1.9 million in private investment to the area.
Union General has 20 other facilities in both north Georgia and North Carolina, which together offer on-duty surgeons who can deal with critical care and surgeries not possible to undertake at the other local hospitals. County Manager, Mark Pullium, added that, “since my tenure began as Clay County Manager, the Clay County Commissioners have put health care at the top of their agenda and they have worked tirelessly to bring about the changes we see today.”
Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (BRMEMC) was also responsible for providing Union General with access to a $2m interest-free loan to support the building and infrastructure costs. Jeremy Nelms, General Manager of BRMEMC said, “Blue Ridge Mountain EMC is honored to work closely with Chatuge Regional Hospital and its parent company, Union General Hospital, to leverage USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Funds. The 0%-Interest dollars provided through this rural-focused program will create much needed new jobs and important healthcare services in Clay County, and will bolster the community’s economic development efforts. Projects like these are important to the entire region and support BRMEMC’s focus on the seventh Cooperative principle, Concern for Community.”
The Golden Leaf Foundation will provide up to $200,000 in grant funds to purchase medical equipment. Mr. Pullium said that, “this is an indication of the broader role our utility provider and other economic development organizations have played in uplifting rural counties like ours by enabling access to good quality health care and allowing citizens to still enjoy a country life.”