Two August events make history in Haywood

Aug 07, 2014

Aug. 1, 2014, will go down in Haywood County’s history as a day of great significance.

That is the day Duke LifePoint Healthcare assumed ownership of the community hospital and health facilities. It is also the day the county received a major boost in its effort to more effectively deal with poverty issues.

Both represent pivotal changes in how needs within the community will be met in the coming years.

The nonprofit public hospital system in Haywood was started 87 years ago with a 75-bed facility funded by proceeds from a bond election — and with funds from the Duke Endowment. The system grew steadily through the years, and is now part of a much larger for-profit system.

Those who worked for years to address the increasing challenges to the community’s healthcare system say it is unlikely the hospital could have kept on going if the Duke LifePoint sale had not occurred.

Rural community hospitals that don’t have access to capital or that aren’t part of larger organizations face an uphill struggle — a struggle that experts predict will certainly claim casualties.

With the Duke LifePoint purchase, Haywood should be able to breathe a sigh of relief that it has avoided that possibility. A future without healthcare facilities is one that is difficult to envision.

Also on Aug. 1, Haywood County residents learned an effort to meet the needs of those in poverty within the community gained a national boost. The Haywood Pathways Center, a component of the anti-poverty effort Haywood Helps, was selected as the grand prize winner in the Guaranteed Rate/Ty Pennington Ultimate Neighborhood Giveback Challenge.

There were more than 300 project ideas entered from 49 states, and throughout the voting process, the Haywood project to convert a shuttered prison into transitional housing and a soup kitchen finished first.

The $50,000 grand prize and national attention is a small but important piece in a long-range plan to make a significant dent in poverty within our community.

Ironically, both of these projects have dovetailed each other at key junctures and were on the county commissioner agendas on the same day on multiple occasions.

Hopefully, it’s a sign that both have not only the blessings of county residents, but blessings from above. The best of all outcomes is that each accomplishment will, in its own way, positively impact the trajectory of this county for years to come.