The healthcare industry remains a major economic engine in rural, tobacco-dependent, and economically distressed communities. The Golden LEAF Foundation supports the healthcare industry by funding projects that directly lead to the creation of new jobs with the expansion of services.
The unexpected closing in 2015 of Franklin County’s only hospital created an urgent need for healthcare services. The closest hospital is a 45-minute drive during normal traffic conditions. A Community Health Needs Assessment identified an urgent need for local access to emergency room services and behavioral health services.
In April 2018, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded $884,934 to Franklin County through the Golden LEAF Community-Based Grants Initiative to support the reopening of the county-owned Franklin Medical Center. Golden LEAF funding was used for renovations and improvements to the building. Duke LifePoint Maria Parham is leasing the building from the County and has established emergency services as well as inpatient geriatric and adult behavioral healthcare at the hospital.
To date, the new Maria Parham Medical Facility in Franklin County has created 11 full time equivalent jobs in the emergency department and 33 full time jobs in behavioral health. The facility will create a total of 63 new jobs once all services are fully opened.
“Obviously, the onset of the pandemic slowed some of the momentum that the Facility was experiencing after officially opening the Emergency Room in October 2019 and the Adult Behavioral Health Unit in February 2020,” said Kim Denton, Franklin County Manager. “Despite the pandemic, Duke Lifepoint has continued with plans to open supporting specialties – including a Primary Care Office adjacent to the Hospital and an Orthopedics specialty office. Duke Lifepoint has plans to add an OBGYN Specialty in third quarter 2021.”
This hospital welcomes patients from surrounding rural counties as it is the only facility of its type in north central North Carolina.
“Support from the Golden LEAF Foundation has made a difference in the lives of our Franklin County residents,” said Denton. “The availability of convenient, quality healthcare services provides a peace of mind that residents value. The establishment of this facility prior to the COVID pandemic was critical timing, as appreciation and use of Maria Parham Franklin has continued to increase.”
As of April 2021, the facility has seen 3,239 patients in the emergency room year to date, with 2020 visits totaling 3,938. The behavioral health department has seen 179 patients April 2021 year to date, compared to 53 for the same period in 2020.
With healthcare access more critical than ever, Maria Parham Franklin is providing north central North Carolina with critical services that will help keep citizens healthy and available to participate in the workforce, while providing quality jobs to healthcare workers in the region.
Photo: In October 2018, Golden LEAF Board member Bobbie Richardson (third from left) attended the Maria Parham Franklin ribbon cutting.