FLETCHER — Fletcher on Wednesday seemed far away from the pitched battle over Obamacare in Washington.
Amid a drumbeat of distressing news about health care reform and the partisan war in Raleigh and Washington, "we wonder what is health care going to look like in the future, what is the impact on our community?" Pardee Hospital CEO Jay Kirby said. "We are very fortunate to be here today because the future of health care looks very much like what you're sitting in today."
People were seated in the brand new Mission Pardee Health Campus, a joint project of two erstwhile health care competitors that many viewed as unthinkable just a few years ago.
"I would have doubted it myself many times," said Bill Moyer, chairman of the Pardee Hospital Board of Trustees. "I think it's very significant for the delivery of health care in the area. It's definitely a growing area that needs excellent health care, and I think this collaboration will be a provider of health care working effectively together. It shows it can be done."
The two-story medical building contains Pardee's urgent care center, business and industry services for workplace oriented medical needs and a lab, the Asheville Breast Center and Asheville Imaging Center and a health campus pharmacy. Residents can tour the health campus on Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The medical clinics will open on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
It took a new attitude to overcome the usual suspicions and turf protection, Kirby said at Wednesday's ribbon cutting ceremony.
"We talked about shared governing, putting your egos and power trips to the side, and sitting around the table and talking about not what's best for your organization but what's best for the community, and what is best for the patients," he said. "I can vouch that every time I sat around the table with my friends from Mission and Pardee and those that helped create this magnificent building, the patient was at the center of everything we discussed."
Mission CEO Ron Paulus said the two partners overcame challenges to reach opening day. Among them was a decision by state regulators denying Mission permission to put an endoscopy clinic on the campus.
"We've had many obstacles thrown in our road along the way," he said. "We've weaved around some, we've crashed into others but we've reinvented ourselves each and every step of the way. It's been almost 100 new jobs that have been dedicated, 60 jobs that will be continuing from this point forward. We have new partners that are coming with YMCA," scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
Kirby said the new medical campus fills a need in the community.
"When we talk about what the future is going to look like in health care, it starts with words like convenience," he said, "the convenience of having urgent care in your community, the convenience of having a pharmacy right next to your physician office. It talks about value — the value of having radiology not at hospital prices but clearly at more market driven prices."
Fletcher Mayor Bill Moore expressed his town's thanks for the project.
"This is a great day for our community," he said. "It's a great day for our citizens because this is not about this or that. This is about providing health service for people, and I think we'll find out when the dust all settles that there's room for all. I can't tell you how proud I am of Mission and Pardee for being here but I can tell you who I'm really proud for: 7,500 people, just in the town of Fletcher."
Situated between Hendersonville and Asheville, Fletcher has more than tripled in population since it was incorporated in 1989, Moore said.
"It's a wonderful place to live," he said. "Fletcher's handy."