The CarePartners story goes all the way back to 1938.
In 1926, the Asheville Rotary Club and the Asheville Junior League began treating children with disabilities at roaming clinics throughout Western North Carolina. When that became prohibitive, the groups began to search for a permanent location. In the meantime, the clinic treated children at the porch of All Souls Episcopal Church.
In 1938, clinic organizers purchased the 40-plus-acre Clyde Reed estate, a quiet, secluded setting on a hilltop close to Biltmore Village. The clinic became the Asheville Orthopedic Home, Inc. The facility opened on August 25, 1939, with 12 young patients and 20 beds inside Mr. Reed’s beautiful stone mansion.
Today, the Reed mansion serves as the Administration Building at the heart of the CarePartners campus.
A home for children evolves into a regionally recognized rehabilitation hospital.
The 1940s brought the polio epidemic, and with it an increased need for the Asheville Orthopedic Home’s services. In 1948, the Home became Asheville Orthopedic Hospital, expanding in both physical space and scope of services.
By 1960, the polio epidemic has subsided with the creation of the polio vaccine. That year Harold Thoms, a prominent businessman, was elected to the board of trustees. Over the next 16 years, he would lead the hospital through a period of tremendous change, including a new focus on adult rehabilitation. In his honor, the facility was renamed the Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital in 1976. Twenty years later, Thoms would join with three other regional agencies to form CarePartners Health Services.
Today the facility is known as CarePartners Rehabilitation Hospital, and its staff and board members continue to respond to the needs of the region. In 2009, a major renovation and expansion was completed.
Outpatient rehabilitation expands from one dedicated clinic to five.
In 1986 the Thoms Outpatient Center opened on the hospital’s campus. At various times in the following years, the center’s programs included the Partin Speech & Hearing Center, the Olson Huff Center for Child Development (now part of Mission Hospitals), the Center for Older Adults (now the Memory Assessment Clinic at Givens Estates), and the predecessor of the Outpatient Center’s current services, the Center for Outpatient Adult Rehabilitation.
Today, the CarePartners Outpatient Center is one of five regional locations offering outpatient rehabilitation, in addition to an Orthotics & Prosthetics Clinic and a Wheelchair Seating and Mobility Clinic.
Home Health Services begin with a card table and two lawn chairs.
In 1977, a group of friends took notice of the area’s need for a home health agency. The seeds of CarePartners Home Health were planted when Visiting Health Professionals (VHP) opened its first office with just two lawn chairs and a card table, in a space donated by the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.
As demand increased, VHP grew, adding nurses and therapists and expanding its headquarters, until in 1992 when it moved to what is now Greenlife Grocery on Merrimon Avenue, and opened satellite offices in Henderson and Haywood counties.
Four years later, VHP became a founding member of CarePartners Health Services. Today it is headquartered on the CarePartners campus, and CarePartners Home Health staff log more than a million miles a year to serve homebound patients throughout the region.
Personal care services branches out on its own.
One year after VHP opened its doors, the company created a homemaker program with $30,000 in seed money from the state. At the time, the program was the second largest of its kind in North Carolina. Later it branched out on its own under the name of At Home Services.
Today, CarePartners Private Duty & Personal Care Services continues to offer assistance that makes living at home possible for hundreds of Western North Carolina residents.
A college course leads to one of the biggest inpatient hospice facilities in NC.
In 1977, the hospice movement began to take hold in Buncombe County. A class on death and dying at AB Tech Community College spurred interest in establishing a local program, and three years later Mountain Area Hospice cared for its first patient.
Though most hospice patients receive care where they live, the team at Mountain Area Hospice recognized a need for an inpatient facility for those who could not remain at home. The first Solace Center on Livingston Street had six beds. Within two years, that number doubled. In 1996, Mountain Area Hospice moved to a larger facility in the Montford neighborhood, and became a founding member of CarePartners Health Services.
Today, CarePartners Hospice & Palliative Care is located on the CarePartners campus. The John F. Keever, Jr. Solace Center opened in 2005 with 27 beds in private rooms, a chapel, a great room and family dining area, and gardens that can be viewed from every room.
From a church basement to the area’s premier adult day center.
In 1986, the Alzheimer’s Association combined efforts with Mission Hospital to create a day program to provide care for older adults. The Mountain Geri-Care Center opened in Doctor’s Park with a capacity of 24 participants, later moving to the basement of Haywood Street United Methodist Church.
1996 was a big year. The agency became a founding member of CarePartners and moved to an expanded space on the Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital campus. It was able to expand its services and was renamed MountainCARE (Center for Adult Respite and Enrichment), which better reflected the center’s service to impaired adults of all ages – not just older adults.
Today, CarePartners Adult Day Services provides a secure, spacious and stimulating environment for around 120 participants – up to 82 at any one time.
Highly respected agencies join together to form CarePartners.
The decision to join together to create CarePartners made sense on many levels. All of the agencies involved were nonprofits and often cared for the same patients. For example, a stroke patient might come to Thoms for rehabilitation, become a patient of VHP home health care after being discharged, and later, go to MountainCare for adult day services.
Combining resources would enable patients to move more easily and efficiently from one level of care to the next. The larger entity would be stronger and better able to serve the need of the people of our region and beyond. And thanks to the foresight of the founders of the Asheville Orthopedic Home, there was plenty of space on the campus.
On October 1, 1996, the founding agencies – Thoms Rehabilitation Hospital, VHP, Mountain Area Hospice, and MountainCARE – formally came together under the name CarePartners. Today, CarePartners carries on the rich traditions of its founding organizations – traditions of deep compassion, personalized care and a responsibility to meet the needs of our community. Now, as then, our goal is to provide the best care and services for those with disability, illness and injury.