Significant progress has been made in the addition of a medical acute care unit at Cannon Memorial Hospital. David E. Looper & Company is onsite providing general construction supervision. Click to enlarge photos
The steel frame for the drive-thru canopy has been placed
ARHS-funded renovations are underway to create a new 8-bed medical acute care unit, followed by grant-funded renovations for an additional 27 behavioral health inpatient beds at Cannon Memorial Hospital (CMH). We want to keep the community informed during and after the renovations. Review the Frequently Asked Questions below, and if you have any further questions, feel free to contact us directly.
How does the lack of psychiatric beds affect the High Country?
Each year Cannon Memorial Hospital’s (CMH) 10-bed behavioral health unit receives over 5,000 referrals, but we are only able to admit approximately 500 patients. While all of those referrals are not from the High Country exclusively, it clearly paints a picture of a gap across the state of North Carolina relative to inpatient psychiatric care.
How does the lack of psychiatric beds affect Watauga Medical Center and Cannon Memorial Hospital?
A delay in accessing behavioral health treatment creates longer wait times in emergency departments for psychiatric and non-psychiatric patients alike. The average length of stay or wait time to find appropriate treatment options for behavioral health patients is 16 hours at Watauga Medical Center and 18 hours at Cannon Memorial Hospital.
The inpatient behavioral health unit at CMH is the only one within a 40 mile radius. Treatment options for behavioral health patients are often far from home, community resources and social supports which make the recovery process much more challenging.
How will the expansion of behavioral health beds at CMH help the community?
By expanding the number of behavioral health beds available within the High Country, our healthcare system will provide more opportunity for High Country residents to receive treatment close to home. The additional beds will also streamline the referral process and decrease the wait time for behavioral health patients that visit our emergency rooms.
Will CMH still accept all types of hospital patients, or only accept behavioral health patients?
Although the expansion is focused on behavioral health, Cannon Memorial Hospital will meet the medical needs of the community by continuing to operate as a Critical Access Hospital. All services that are currently available will continue – inpatient medical care, Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, Cardiovascular Services, Emergency Services, Imaging and Lab Services, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Surgical Services, and more.
What type of behavioral health patients will CMH accept? What measures are being taken to ensure the patients and community are safe?
We will provide a wide array of Behavioral Health Services within our community. Our inpatient services will be housed in a secure setting where patients can receive high quality behavioral healthcare. Our behavioral health patients are also our community members – friends, neighbors, and family members who, at any given time, may be having a hard time coping with circumstances in their lives and need intervention. Cannon Memorial Hospital will provide a safe space for those who would otherwise have nowhere to go, or would have to travel a distance to find help.
Why are there only 8 beds in the new inpatient medical wing? Will that meet the needs of our community for other things beside behavioral health?
For the expansion, we based the number of inpatient beds on the average number of inpatients over the past 3-4 years. On any given day, we have an average of six patients in our medical beds. Eight is an optimal number based upon our admissions patterns.
The renovations at Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital (Cannon Memorial Hospital) in Avery County, North Carolina have begun. Thank you to everyone who attended Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s (ARHS) groundbreaking ceremony on June 4, 2019.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (NCDHHS) has selected Cannon Memorial Hospital to receive a $6.5 million grant award to expand the availability of behavioral health beds in the western region of North Carolina.
On June 4, 2019, ARHS-funded renovations began to create a new 8-bed acute care unit, followed by grant-funded renovations to add an additional 27 behavioral health inpatient beds.
The funding for this grant originated from the Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund, which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly from the sale of Dorothea Dix Hospital in 2015. The Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund was established as part of NCDHHS’s plan to expand the number of beds that provide crisis stabilization and inpatient behavioral healthcare. The plan calls for 150 new behavioral health inpatient beds across the state.
With the recent increase in the demand for behavioral health inpatient beds across the region, ARHS is proud to be given the opportunity to expand and continue meeting the needs of the community on a larger scale. Although the expansion is focused on behavioral health, Cannon Memorial Hospital will continue to meet the medical needs of the community by operating as a Critical Access Hospital.
Carmen Lacey, President of Cannon Memorial Hospital, dug the first bit of dirt for the groundbreaking.
Carmen Lacey addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony.
The shovel from the original 1998 groundbreaking for Avery Healthcare System was used to celebrate the start of this new project.
Director of Behavioral Health Services Stephanie Greer, Cannon Memorial Hospital President Carmen Lacey, and ARHS President and CEO Chuck Mantooth.
Ashley Campbell (left), was present at the first groundbreaking for Avery Healthcare System in 1998. She is now a nurse at Cannon Memorial Hospital. Pictured with Stephanie Greer, Carmen Lacey and Joyce Lowder.
Avery Health System Groundbreaking, 1998. A young Ashley Bare (Campbell) is second from the left.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services (NCDHHS) has selected Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital (Cannon Hospital) in Avery County, North Carolina to receive a $6.5 million grant award, to expand the availability of behavioral health beds in the western region of North Carolina.
Chuck Mantooth, President and CEO of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) commented on the grant award by saying, “we are extremely pleased to receive this grant from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. It will allow Cannon Hospital and ARHS to significantly impact the behavioral health crisis occurring in North Carolina.”
The funding for this grant originated from the Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund, which was created by the North Carolina General Assembly from the sale of Dorothea Dix Hospital in 2015. The Dorothea Dix Hospital Property Fund was established as a part of NCDHHS’s plan to expand the number of beds that provide crisis stabilization and inpatient behavioral healthcare. The plan calls for 150 new behavioral health inpatient beds across the state.
Behavioral Health demand increases
Over the last five years Cannon Hospital has experienced a drastic increase in the demand for behavioral health inpatient beds from across the region. In 2016 Cannon Hospital received over 5,000 psychiatric referrals, but was only able to admit 560 psychiatric patients. Additionally, in 2014 the US Health Resources and Services Administration reported that, “30 counties in North Carolina were designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas.” Avery County (where Cannon Hospital operates), was among those counties.
Currently Cannon Hospital operates as a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital and as a 10-bed behavioral health unit. Cannon Hospital also provides an emergency department, imaging, laboratory, outpatient behavioral health, a rehabilitation center, a surgery suite, and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation services. This full-service medical campus is the hub of healthcare delivery in Avery County.
Mantooth commented on the future of Cannon Hospital by saying, “I want to be clear that Cannon Hospital will continue to meet the medical needs of the community by operating as a Critical Access Hospital. These additional behavioral health beds afford us the opportunity to grow the medical campus at Cannon Hospital and to develop the rural hospital of the future model, which can be replicated across the country. These grant funds are a win for patients, our community, our healthcare system and the State of North Carolina.”
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System will host a public information session about this grant and the future of Cannon Hospital on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 at 5:30 pm at the Hugh Chapman Center in Linville, NC. The public is invited to attend.