AdventHealth: "This Is Your Hospital" - TribPapers

AdventHealth: “This Is Your Hospital”

Graham Fields, assistant to the president of AdventHealth (center), Jermey Wilde, the head of AdventHealth's Emergency Department (right), and DeLaina Lewkowicz, Women's Services manager (left), presented the program in Mars Hill about the new hospital. Photo by Clint Parker

Mars Hill – Representatives of AdventHealth Hospital attended a Rotary meeting last week in Mars Hill to talk about the hospital they plan to build in Weaverville. The theme of their presentation was “This is your hospital.”

Graham Fields, assistant to the president of AdventHealth; Jermey Wilde, the head of AdventHealth’s Emergency Department; and DeLaina Lewkowicz, Women’s Services manager, all participated in the presentation, with Fields leading off.

“Let me very quickly catch everyone up to speed,” Fields said. “So a couple of years ago, AdventHealth recognized the need for health care competition and choice. Particularly in Western North Carolina—Madison, Yancey, Buncombe, and Graham [Counties]…so the state had identified 67 beds. So we applied for those…so we went through the Certificate of Needs process…so we made that application, and thanks to organizations like yours, we were approved. And we’re honored…because this will be your hospital.”

He then went into the court challenge by Mission-HCA, who sued the state for the decision. Fields explained that the trial has been over, and now the parties are waiting for the judge’s decision, hopefully by the end of the month. “We are very, very confident the judge will uphold what the state has already decided,” he said. Fields, a native of North Buncombe and graduate of North Buncombe High School, told about finding the 35 acres off 25/70 in Weaverville. 

However, he said if the judge does rule in AdventHealth’s favor, he expected Mission-HCA to appeal, which would probably take until the end of the year. At that time, if victorious in court, they hope to break ground on the $250 million hospital with about 600 new jobs, and they hope to have it completed in two years.

He next talked about what was planned for the new hospital besides the 67 beds. “We’re talking about a sophisticated emergency department, we’re talking about a big women’s presence. So when you think about OB [obstetrician], there will be multiple labor and delivery rooms, a c-section suite, an intensive care unit… imagine, a lab, but the other piece that I think you’ll be very interesting to you is, think about the infrastructure that comes with a hospital, right – the physician offices, the services, and I’d love to hear your input about that.”

He then told the group that “the state has identified an additional 26 beds,” which AdventHealth plans to apply for, which will put the hospital close to 100 beds. “Our prayer and our hope are that once we reach a certain scale and we’re approved, that will bring an even higher acuity and different service lines.” He next turned the mic over to his colleagues, saying, “I want you to know AdventHealth…I want you to know our heart. This is more than just clinical care; this is a ministry, and our mission is to extend the health ministry of Christ.”

“I have the pleasure of working in the ‘baby place,’ but also in behavior health,” said Lewkowicz, who spoke next. “My passion is mental health, brain health, and so that is something I take very seriously and AdventHealth takes very seriously.” She went on to talk about the current facilities at AdventHealth and the program “Light the Night,” a teen suicide prevention agenda—a combination of spiritual and clinical techniques to address mental health.

Next, Wilde, whose family came here in the late 1700s, said his role is to foster “many non-AdventHealth providers in the Western North Carolina area,” one of which is the Hot Spring Health Program,” but he said his role is to let area providers know what AdventHealth can help with, which includes any of the ‘-ologies.’ “Remember, this is your hospital. We’re building it in Weaverville…We want you guys to feel ownership…We’re not the city folks coming in here telling you what works best and how to do your business…it’s a ministry, and we treat people as image bearers.”

After about an 18-minute presentation by Fields and his colleagues, the meeting turned to questions from the group, with the first being how Graham County, which is two hours away from Weaverville, got grouped into the mix. Fields said the state assigned Graham County, with only about 8,100 residents, to a larger, more populated area, and AdventHealth plans to have an urgent care center up and going in the next 120 days in Graham.

For the next 40 minutes, the AdventHealth team fielded questions from the group, with a Rotarian finally having to call the session over and ask the group if they wanted to continue questions to meet at a local restaurant.