On March 9, 2018, following years of planning, design, and construction, Mission Hospital McDowell will welcome the community into its 105,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, health care facility—representing one of the largest investments in McDowell County by Mission Health System. It also represents an enduring pledge to the region that dates to 1885.
Opened in a 5-bedroom rental house with borrowed furniture and a minimally paid staff, Mission Health was started by a small group of Asheville women, Anna Woodfin, Fanny Patton, Rose Chapman, and Lily Carmichael, with hearts to serve. This desire to serve the community remains the driving force of Mission Health System and Mission Hospital McDowell, said Hospital President Carol Wolfenbarger. “When people come for care, we see one of two things,” explains Wolfenbarger. “They are either happy [if they are going to have a baby] or fearful [an illness]. We want to make sure they are comfortable and provided the best care.” There is no hiding the excitement on her face as Wolfenbarger describes the new birthing rooms (300 square feet) where moms-to-be (or “be again”) can relax in private suites with separate areas for visiting family, including curious and excitable siblings. She explains that what they discovered through all the planning was how to make their services and their care more efficient and patient-centric. Department heads in every field of medicine offered or service provided at the hospital were part of intense design sessions—from the surgeons and technicians to the facilities and informatics departments. Patient care scenarios were presented to map out the most efficacious outcome in both cost and service. “The new facility provides a much better work flow,” she said. “The more we can reduce duplication of services or reduce the cost of health care for the patient, the better for everyone.” From the intake station, the intelligent design allows for patient services to efficiently flow from one department to the next. Imaging is readily accessible to orthopedics and oncologists for example. The infusion area where patients come for chemotherapy or blood transfusions is strategically located with the best view of the area mountains with cozy recliners, private rooms, televisions and privacy curtains—all to orchestrate an optimal experience for the patient. “We want to provide the best care, but also support and hope,” said Wolfenbarger. The onsite clinics and Rural Health Centers are all digitally connected to the hospital, eliminating duplication of services and extra trips for patients. “This investment is a partnership with our community,” she said. “And that investment positions us [the community] well to attract future businesses to McDowell. All of this—the technology, the efficiency, the commitment to the health of our community—helps us begin to accomplish our quality of life goals.” McDowell County is one of few small rural communities to have access to this level of health services. With the hospital, Rural Health Centers, and telemedicine, Mission Hospital McDowell is positioned well to care for and facilitate healthy living for our residents. “We have an awesome care team,” she said. “And we are very grateful that the community entrusts their care to us.”
The expansion was in part made possible by very generous donors who were treated to a special tour and ribbon cutting of their own!