Healthcare options are expanding for Highlands and Cashiers

Despite its geographical isolation, the Highlands and Cashiers area is seeing growth in the healthcare options available to local residents. There are now two healthcare options with a third on its way. The three are Highlands Cashiers Hospital, Blue Ridge Health and soon to be Mountain Lakes Medical Center out of Clayton, Ga.

Blue Ridge Health

The Highlands-Cashiers Health Foundation has continued its efforts to expand services to the area and with the recent addition of new providers at Blue Ridge Health services residents have another healthcare option.

Dr. Ann Davis M.D. recently joined the team at Blue Ridge Health through the efforts and funding of the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation. Pictured above Dr. Davis chats with a patient.

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital

At the July Highlands Town Board meeting Tom Neal, CNO/CEO of the Highlands Cashiers Hospital said they aim to be the primary provider in the area.

Highlands-Cashiers Hospital CEO Tom Neal stands in one of the newly opened operating rooms and explains the upgrades to infrastructure and technology that were required to begin scheduling surgeries at the hospital again after a 6-year hiatus.

To do so, and with competition clearly in the mix now, HCH, owned and operated by HCA — which took over Mission Health — is in the process of resurrecting services such as endoscopy and orthopedic services that have been unavailable for some time. 

HCH offers 24/7 emergency care, acute inpatient care, rehabilitation, as well as long-term care through Eckerd Living Center.

The hospital has 24 beds for acute care services and 80 beds in the Eckerd Living Center. Ambulatory services are also available, including therapy services and primary care practices serving both Highlands and Cashiers.

Leading the newly available orthopedic services is Dr. Gregory Crawley who has obtained surgical privileges at both Angel Medical Center in Franklin and at the Highlands Cashiers Hospital. Dr. Crawley is an orthopedic surgeon who takes special interest in personalized state-of-the-art care for all of his patients. He has been practicing Orthopedic Surgery in the northern Atlanta suburbs for many years and is excited to bring his expertise to Western North Carolina. Dr. Crawley is a resident of Franklin and has been serving Highlands and Cashiers since February. 

In addition to resurrecting services due to staffing, last Fall, the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital received a capital funds infusion for the hospital of nearly $5 million from HCA Healthcare. This investment was intended to bring advanced imaging technology to the area and strengthen existing infrastructure. 

A new digital imaging machine at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital.

As part of the hospital’s expanded services, 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) is also now available at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital. With traditional mammography, the image is flat. During a 3D mammogram, multiple images are obtained in seconds as the x-ray machine sweeps across the breast. Images are displayed as a series of thin slices that allow our team to view the breast tissue one thin layer at a time. Cancers can be detected that otherwise would be hidden by overlapping breast tissue.

Lori Smith, Regional Manager of Radiology at Mission stands next to the new 3D Mammography machine at Highlands-Cashiers Hospital.

As a community-based, patient centered organization, BRH hold themselves to the highest standard of care saying dedication and commitment to quality ensures patients receive the best quality of care possible.

Since 1963, Blue Ridge Health has provided high-quality healthcare in a safe, caring environment that’s accessible and affordable for all.

BRH’s Patient-Centered approach involves total well-being: medical, emotional, dental and nutrition. By supporting more people to lead healthier lives, their approach makes the entire community healthier.

In April, the Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation announced they found the perfect addition to the Blue Ridge Health team in Ann Davis, MD and Kristy Fincher, DO. 

Though not part of Highlands Cashiers Hospital, they began seeing patients last month at the new Blue Ridge Health – Highlands Cashiers location on the campus of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in the Jane Woodruff Clinic.

As a Board-Certified Family Medicine physician, Dr. Davis brings 10 years of experience in outpatient family medicine, comprehensive primary care for patients of all ages, and chronic disease management.

Dr. Fincher is a graduate of Erskine College, and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, SC. She completed her residency at AnMed Health Family Medicine Residency Program in Anderson, SC. Dr. Fincher comes to us with extensive experience in Family Medicine with proficiencies in women’s health, lifestyle and nutritional medicine, sports medicine and osteopathic manipulative treatments.

Mountain Lakes Medical Center

The third healthcare option for Highlands and Cashiers is at Mountain Lake Medical Center’s new facility in the complex on NC 106 across from Dusty’s.

Come January 2022 several options will be available including a daily primary care physician, a nurse practitioner five days a week and rotating specialty services. The primary care presence will be split between MDs and CRNPs.

Specialty services include ENT, Gynecology and orthopedics, with cardiology expected to be added to the mix, soon. Dr. Julie Farrow, who people know from her stint with Mission in Highlands, will be the gynecologist on staff. There will also be outpatient physical therapy full time, as well.

According to Jessica Potts, in the marketing department, renovations of the building are in the works with local contractors being eyed for the job.

Pictured at the top of the article is Dr. Ann Davis M.D. from Blue Ridge Health working with a patient.

By Brittney Lofthouse

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