ASHEVILLE NC – WestCare Health will launch a new full-time primary care clinic in the Health and Human Sciences Building on the West Campus of Western Carolina University, with a targeted opening in September.
The clinic is the result of a partnership between the hospital and the university in which access to care will be expanded in the community and educational opportunities will be provided to health sciences students.
A family nurse practitioner will begin seeing patients this fall when the clinic opens and will be joined by a physician recruited to the community specifically for the clinic at WCU. The practice will treat patients ages 16 and older.
Doug Keskula, dean of WCU’s College of Health and Human Sciences, hailed the opening of the clinic as the latest collaborative effort between the college and health care partners to help meet the needs of people from the region while providing students opportunities for hands-on education and faculty members with opportunities for professional practice and research.
“We are excited to welcome the WestCare primary care clinic to the Health and Human Sciences Building at Western Carolina University,” Keskula said. “Through this important partnership, we can provide exceptional health services to our community while supporting the development of a highly skilled health workforce for the future.”
Steve Heatherly, president and CEO of WestCare, said the health care provider serving four counties of Western North Carolina has a tradition of working with WCU to serve the health care needs of the community.
“There is a need for additional access to primary care in our community and we are pleased to serve the residents of southern Jackson County as well as the faculty and staff of Western Carolina University. Serving the educational needs of local health sciences students through clinical rotations is an important feature of the clinic and we are privileged to participate,” said Heatherly.
The clinic will occupy 2,000 square feet within the 160,000-square-foot Health and Human Sciences Building, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to the critical intersection of health sciences and technology. In December 2013, WestCare opened a rehabilitation and sports medicine clinic in the building. Carolina West Sports Medicine provides care to the community and collaborates clinically with WCU rehabilitation and sports medicine faculty, staff and students. WestCare donated the onsite therapy pool used in treating specific injuries and conditions. The new primary care clinic will be located adjacent to the Carolina West Sports Medicine space.
“WestCare is committed to serving the community through access and education so that local healthcare can be strengthened from both the patient and provider aspects,” Heatherly said. “The clinic at WCU creates an environment for the hospital to partner with the university in improving lives.”
The Health and Human Sciences Building is the first facility to be built on WCU’s West Campus, 344 acres across N.C. Highway 107 from the main campus that were acquired in 2005 as part of the Millennial Initiative. A comprehensive regional economic development strategy, the Millennial Initiative promotes university collaboration with private industry and government partners to enhance hands-on student learning and collaborative research.
Health care has emerged as a point of emphasis for the Millennial Initiative and for the university, said WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher.
“We have long envisioned this building as a place of learning, collaboration and community – a point of intersection between our educational pursuits and our community engagement values,” Belcher said. “Thanks to partnerships such as the one we have with our friends at WestCare, that vision is becoming reality.”
WestCare Health System was formed through a partnership of Harris Regional Hospital and Swain County Hospital in 1997 and serves Jackson, Swain, Macon and Graham counties with primary and subspecialty care, outpatient facilities and urgent care.
Founded in 1889 to bring education and career opportunities to Western North Carolina, Western Carolina University is one of the 16 senior institutions of the University of North Carolina system. WCU enrolls more than 10,100 students in undergraduate and graduate programs of study.