Work starts soon on medical clinic in downtown Lenoir

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 08:12 AM

CORRECTION, published April 24: A story in Tuesday’s News-Topic about the Laurel Park Medical Pavilion being built in Lenoir contained several errors. Commercial real estate broker Brackett Flagship Properties, based in Charlotte, invested the $3 million to build the clinic, which will be 15,000 square feet. Caldwell Memorial Hospital will manage the building as a tenant. Tricia Masters works as a pediatric nurse practitioner, and Mulberry Pediatrics has a staff of 15. Laurel Park Women’s Health has a staff of six. Caldwell Memorial’s medical center in Granite Falls is not the hospital’s only medical center but is its only one that combines pediatric and women’s care. The former hospital that once occupied the clinic’s site was named Blackwelder Hospital.

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Caldwell Memorial Hospital will invest some $3 million into a new health care clinic in downtown Lenoir, where primary health care providers in different parts of the city will converge at a building seen by health officials as a path to meeting a growing demand for women and children health care.

Construction of the 13,000-square-foot clinic, called Laurel Park Medical Pavilion, is expected to begin next week on the former site of Blackwelder Memorial Hospital, which ran from the early 1930s to 1988. It will consolidate Laurel Park Women’s Health on Morganton Boulevard and Mulberry Pediatrics on Mulberry Street. 

The new clinic is designed “with the idea that we could grow into it,” hospital spokesman David Horn said Monday.

“We’re going to, and we have to” build a new clinic in a county facing a growing demand for primary care services and a shortage of primary care providers, he said. Caldwell County has one primary care provider for every 2,400 people, compared to a statewide ratio of one provider to nearly 1,500 people. The national average is one for 1,070 people.

The hospital also is preparing to extend its women’s care services to the southern part of the county, in Granite Falls, where obstetricians and gynecologists will start offering breast health assessments, mammograms and other services at a medical center on April 30. It is the only other medical center in the county run by Caldwell Memorial.

The clinic in Lenoir will fulfill a “big need” for extra space for Mulberry Pediatric, said Tricia Masters, who has worked as a pediatrician at the clinic for the past year and a half, during which she said she has noticed a steady increase in patients seeking physicals, vaccinations and other services. 

Mulberry Pediatric now operates with a staff of 11, including four pediatricians, who treat an average of about 1,100 patients a month, according to Caldwell Memorial. At the Laurel Park clinic, whose services range from birth control and ultrasounds to menopause care, a staff of four treats an average of 350 patients a month.

The idea of a new building emerging downtown is welcomed by resident Randy Dillinger as a favorable alternative to other kinds of development.

“I think it’s going to be a good-looking building,” Dillinger, who runs local biofuel company Foothills Bio-Energies, said of the proposed two-story building on Harper Avenue.

The new clinic, which could open as early as January, also will result in increased traffic to town, likely giving a boost to the local economy, hospital spokeswoman Kim Edmisten said.

“It’s just a good opportunity for people to be engaged in what is becoming a wonderful revitalization and rebirth of downtown” Lenoir.