A proposal to locate a health center in Rosman, possibly in the middle or high school, is in the early stages of discussion.
Tammy Greenwell, chief operations officer for Blue Ridge Health, confirmed her nonprofit organization has had one formal conversation with the school system but the project is still in the “very, very early conversations and stages.”
As far as locating a health center in one of the schools that would depend on the school bond construction plans, but Blue Ridge Health would still pursue locating a center in Rosman, Greenwell said. Blue Ridge Health already operates a health center on West French Broad Street in Brevard.
As reported, the proposed school construction plans are on hold and being reassessed.
Blue Ridge Health also provides mental health services to the county schools, mainly through TeleHealth, but the proposed Rosman center would seek to provide a more accessible general and family health center.
“Taking care of acute issues, certainly if someone doesn’t have a primary care (provider), we can act in that role,” Greenwell said. “We don’t try to take kids away from their existing pediatrician or their primary care. We really serve to augment that and be there at the school,” Greenwell said.
If the center were to open in the schools, according to Greenwell, it would initially focus more on providing care to students, teachers, and families of teachers and school personnel, with the hopes of expanding to the community as a whole.
News about the center was first made public at the recent Board of Education meeting by Missy Ellenberger, the director of the school system’s career and technical education and high school curriculum. She said staffing for the center would be provided by Blue Ridge Health and it would include a nurse with a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner with TeleHealth services available as well.
The cost to the school system, according to Ellenberger, would be minimal, including providing the space, utilities and internet access. Ellenberger said it would benefit the Rosman community as a whole as the town doesn’t have any primary care providers. And while not free at the point of service, Ellenberger said Blue Ridge Health provides a sliding scale based on an individual family’s ability to pay.
Prompted by a question by Board Member Marty Griffin, Ellenberger stressed that it would not change anything regarding school nurses or counselors, it would only be additional care to what is already provided.
According to its website, BRH was founded over 50 years ago by Claire Heyden Burson, a Public Health nurse who had moved to Hendersonville after spending time working in the Caribbean. Officially opening in 1963, what would become BRH initially focused on “providing migrant farmworkers with health. care.”
In 1987, what was known as The Migrant Health Center became Blue Ridge Community Health Services, a year-round health center open to the insured and uninsured that by 1995 evolved to include family, pediatric and dental clinics.