The issue: West Lincoln Family Medicine is growing
This primary care facility, which is under parent company Atrium Health, serves people from across Lincoln County and beyond, and the number of new patients has grown about 15 percent per month in recent months. The current facility at 4429 N.C. 27 in Vale is not large enough to properly serve and accommodate those using the practice. Due to lack of space, bloodwork is taken in a closet rather than a typical private room or bloodwork station, according to Dr. Jason Glass, a medical provider at West Lincoln Family Medicine. This practice is 10 years old, but Glass said they outgrew it five years ago. In 2008 there were four staff members and providers total; now there are 15 and around 6,000 patients.
What it means: The facility needs to move
Glass has worked with the county to scout a new location also along N.C. 27 close to the existing office. The property in mind is currently zoned for residences, and to build the office, West Lincoln Family Medicine requested conditional zoning. The current office is smaller than 4,000 square feet, but Glass said more than double is needed to have enough space. The lot chosen at N.C. 27 and Howards Creek Mill Road will be large enough for 20,000 square feet, though Glass doesn’t predict Phase 1 of the build to be more than 10,000. There will also be two points of entry to help with traffic flow and provide convenient access in emergency situations, if approved.
What happened: Passionate patients spoke up
The public hearing for the conditional zoning was April 2, and several of Glass’ patients spoke in support of the medical office’s relocation and expansion. Most noted how difficult it was to seek medical attention or not having a regular doctor’s office close to home before West Lincoln Family Medicine opened in Lincoln County; they had to drive to Hickory, Charlotte, Cherryville and other towns. Some fear if the request is not approved, West Lincoln Family Medicine/Atrium Health will have to consider other locations, which may not be as convenient or local. Glass estimates this new building will accommodate growth over the next decade or so and will allow him to continue growing in west Lincoln.
What’s next: Commissioners will vote on it
The Lincoln County Planning Board unanimously voted to recommend approval of the conditional zoning request April 2, shortly after the public hearing. Commissioners will have the opportunity to vote on the matter April 16 at their regular board meeting.