Work starts next week on downtown Lenoir clinic

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 08:43 AM

Caldwell Memorial Hospital will invest some

Construction is expected to begin next week on a $3 million 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.

The 15,000-square-foot clinic, called Laurel Park Medical Pavilion, is being built by Charlotte commercial real estate broker Brackett Flagship Properties on the former site of Blackwelder Hospital, which ran from the early 1930s to 1988. Caldwell Memorial Hospital will lease the building and 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.

The clinic in Lenoir will fulfill a “big need” for extra space for Mulberry Pediatric, said Tricia Masters, who has worked as a pediatric nurse practicioner 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 15, 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 six 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.