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Burke County is fortunate to be served by a number of healthcare entities, which allows its residents to seek care from a variety of healthcare providers. Two hospitals located within Burke County include Grace Hospital in Morganton and Valdese Hospital, which is located in the eastern part of the county. Both hospitals, with a total of 376 beds, belong to the Blue Ridge HealthCare System, which is affiliated with the Charlotte-based Carolina HealthCare System. Blue Ridge HealthCare recently completed a $100 million renovation/expansion program, which includes new operational centers, pediatric units, cancer center, Magnetic Resonance Imaging and CT systems.

Many Burke County residents seek treatment at Frye Regional Medical Center. Frye Regional Medical Center, part of Tenet North Carolina, is a 355-bed, acute care facility located at 420 North Center Street in Hickory. The hospital has been serving the medical and health care needs of the area since 1911. The hospital’s main campus includes a comprehensive heart center and cardiopulmonary rehab, orthopedics, bariatric surgery, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, restorative care unit, pediatrics, center for neurosciences, cancer center and women’s pavilion. Frye has several extended campuses to serve families throughout the area, including FryeCare, an outpatient diagnostic facility; Frye Industrial Health Services, which provides extensive industrial services and programs to employers; Frye Wellness and Education Center, which houses the Center For Diabetes Self-Management Care, perinatal education and community wellness classes; Infusion Care; Piedmont Therapy, offering sports and industrial rehabilitation; South Campus for psychiatric services; Tate Surgery Center; Unifour Pain Treatment Center; Unifour Pulmonology; two urgent care facilities; and Vein and Wound Center.

Frye Regional Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, the nation’s oldest and largest hospital accreditation agency.

Mission Hospitals

Others seek healthcare at Mission Hospitals in Asheville, which is situated in the gorgeous French Broad River valley amid the Blue Ridge and Great Smokey mountains, approximately 45 minutes west of Burke County. Mission was recently named Top 50 in Orthopedics by the U.S. News and World Report and as one of the nation’s top 100 Heart Hospitals by Solucient in 2005, 2004 and 2000. Mission Hospitals formed an affiliation with McDowell Hospital in Marion, just minutes away from Burke County. Also located in Asheville is the Asheville VA Medical Center. This 112-bed, acute care facility, along with a separate 120-bed, extended care and rehabilitation center, serves veterans from western North Carolina and portions of South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.

Burke County residents also have the option of choosing healthcare at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, 90 miles east on I-40, and many other top-rated hospitals in Greensboro, Charlotte and other areas throughout North Carolina, including several fine local hospitals in surrounding counties.

Each fire district in Burke County furnishes fire protection and first responder services. First responders are located in all communities and often arrive upon the scene where assistance is needed prior to the advanced life support services. They render basic life support and stabilization services until the advanced life support unit arrives. Burke County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) provides the advanced life support services throughout the county. Five ambulances operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week. A sixth unit is available 40 hours per week.

Three EMS units are located in Morganton, one in Glen Alpine (western part of the county) and one each in Hildebran and Rutherford College (eastern Burke County). An additional advanced life support unit is stationed in Jonas Ridge located in the extreme northwestern part of the county. The EMS units are backed up by members of the Burke County Rescue Squad. In addition, a helicopter is stationed at Grace Hospital to fly patients that need special treatment to hospitals outside of Burke County. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office maintains a RUOK program for seniors. Those involved in the program receive three calls each day to be sure that they are not in need of emergency services. If the senior does not respond, an employee of the Sheriff’s Department contacts a relative of the senior to check on their status or a Sheriff’s Department deputy is dispatched to the home of the senior. Indeed, when it comes to finding a healthcare provider, choices are plentiful. For most people, this is an important requirement before deciding to relocate to any community.

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Town Square Publications
Dr. Elzie F. Hart