High Country Community Health prepares to move
by Allison Haver
High Country Community Health is in the process of purchasing and relocating to a medical facility and property located on Doctors Drive in Boone.
According to CEO Alice Salthouse, the health care provider is in the process of a United States Department of Agriculture loan application and does not know when the relocation will ultimately take place.
"I'm a die-hard optimist, so when I say 'yes,' there may be some obstacles," Salthouse said. "It's a complicated process that usually takes months to complete."
The USDA loan is the reason why High Country Community called a public meeting to discuss the potential purchase and relocation on Dec. 16.
"The USDA provides loans for this type of situation, which is a community who needs care and the public meeting was a part of the loan process," she said.
However, there was not a major community presence at the meeting.
"Quite honestly, there wasn't many people there beside the press," she said.
Although attendance at the meeting was low, Salthouse stressed the importance of the health center's work.
"We have just finished our first year, and if there wasn't a federally qualified health center here we wouldn't be able to do all we have done for the community," she said.
Previously, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners provided a letter of support to help High Country Community Health secure the loan.
The federally qualified health center was created in 2012 to offer medical and dental services to local residents. The office accepts Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance, while noninsured patients pay on a sliding scale based on what they can afford.