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High Country Community Health

High Country Community Health Logo

Celebrating Ten Years In The High Country

The Mission of High Country Community Health is to provide quality, patient centered, culturally appropriate, affordable and compassionate care that serves the whole person. 

See how it all started


From Paper to Practice

North Carolina is 37th in the nation in the number of Community Health Centers, leaving tens of thousands of people without access to affordable health care. We knew something needed to shift, so we gathered a small team of three, plus a grant writer, and began a nine-month trek to bring a community health center to the High Country.

Community Health Centers are Federally Funded Organizations and, in 2010 were only allotted for a total of 350 additional centers throughout the United States, or so we thought...

Awaiting approval, changes in Federal spending reduce funding from 350 federally qualified health centers instead to only 50.


Two Emails and 120 Days

"Notice of grant award..." We were funded! No forewarning, no call, and due to the amount of time that had passed, no team. We continued reading to find out that we had a total of 120 days to take an idea off a piece of paper and become operational.

The first rentable space we had reserved in 2010 was no longer available due the lapse in time, so we collaborated with local health departments wherein we opened to the public before purchasing our own office.

Following the 2010 disappointment, a year and a half later in 2012, we received an email asking if our application was still on file; it was, but our confirming response went unanswered. in April 2012, another email came... 

Getting a team is one thing, but health centers are not government-run; they're community-based. Over 50 percent of the board of directors must be local, and clients of the organization. 

High Country Community Health


On January 2nd, 2013, High Country Community Health saw its first patient. We had four employees on Nov. 1 (2012) and now, in 2022 we have over 170 employees and have provided over 292,000 visits across four counties!

The Full Story

The story above is paraphrased from a local news source, The Watauga Democrat. Click below to read the full article.

Board of Directors

The HCCH Board of Directors is comprised of community members and patients, representative of the ethnicity and economic status of the areas in which we provide care.​

  • Dr. Chip Watkins, Chairman of the Board

  • Tina Houston - Vice Chair

  • Karen James - Treasurer

  • Andi Gelsthorpe - Secretary 

  • Carrie Afanador

  • Cynthia Dillion

  • Dr. David Dixon

  • Emily Hawes

  • Christian Lannie

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