In 1963, Claire Heyden Burson, a career nurse and avid contributor to nonprofit health care organizations, established the first migrant health clinic in Western North Carolina. What would one day become Blue Ridge Community Health Services, had modest beginnings in a downtown storefront, with shower curtains to separate examining rooms and a dedicated group of volunteer medical providers that saw patients three evenings a week. Other volunteer medical personnel would also travel to farms and farm worker housing to provide care to those who were unable to access the clinic.
Ten years after opening the clinic, Claire turned her position as Director over to Barbara Garrison, who was devoted to fulfilling the dream of a year-round health facility for the entire community, and Blue Ridge Community Health Services began providing services as a community health center, with a new name. Under Barbara’s direction, BRCHS saw its greatest expansions and became nationally-recognized as not only a provider of health services for migrant and seasonal farm workers, but for community health as well. Barbara served as the administrative leader for BRCHS for over 20 years, and still resides in Hendersonville, NC.
How far we have come!
Today, tens of thousands of individuals rely on BRCHS for their health care needs. The cooperation, response, and support that we have received from our outstanding community is what enables us to continue to expand our services, and we thank them for their continued interest and assistance in helping BRCHS build a healthier community!