Christian City plans $73 million expansion of charity’s campus

Tue, 04/21/2009 - 3:20pm
By: Ben Nelms

Christian City has long been a landmark for services for children and adults at its Union City campus. Executive Director Robert Crutchfield announced Monday a significant expansion to be detailed at a future town hall meeting.

“It’s a $73 million target of development, some of which we’ll be able to move with pretty aggressively, pretty quickly,” Crutchfield said of the development included in the organization’s strategic plan.

Crutchfield said he preferred to wait until the town hall meeting to get into the specifics, but noted that plans call for additional retirement housing for independent living, home healthcare and expanded pharmacy operations along with speech, occupational and physical therapy services.

And the expansion includes the construction of a major Life and Resource Center for seniors residing on campus and a senior-oriented service center for daily activities for seniors in the large Christian City community.

Crutchfield said he hopes by the end of the week the collaborations with United Health Services-Pruitt Corp. should present a clearer picture of what lies ahead.

He said that, assuming that timeline holds, there should be a town hall meeting in approximately two weeks to explain the definitive strategic plan to the community in terms of what the campus will look like and what services will be offered as those plans unfold. Crutchfield said everyone is the organization’s service area is invited to attend.

“So we have vast plans to expand our services dramatically. We’re on the verge of revealing those to the public,” Crutchfield said, also referencing concerns from some in the community that Christian City was about to be sold.

“So quite to the contrary, we’re not selling, we’re expanding and growing in a very vital way. I don’t know the origin of these rumors, but people are picking them up in bits and pieces and they’re simply not true. I guess I’m concerned that people would be shaken in their confidence that we won’t be there for them. I can assure you that we’re still going to be there for them, God willing. But we’re not going anywhere. We’re doing just the opposite. We’re not even thinking about selling any of our non-profits.”

Crutchfield said that, financially, Christian City is in excellent condition, even besting its contributions from the same period in 2008. Crutchfield also said Christian City has added more than 40 nurses to its roles in the past three months.

“We’re exceeding the financial performance for the same period last year. We’ve pretty much weathered the economic downturn, particularly in the healthcare area and I think we’re doing remarkably well (in contributions), we’re up almost 10 percent from the public,” said Crutchfield.

“So Christian City is in good, solid condition. The question is, when we’re trying to expand in a very dramatic way where do those resources come from? We’ve generally expanded our campus and grown on a ‘cash as we go’ basis with donations.”

Citing an example of that business philosophy, Crutchfield said the organization built the first phase of the Children’s Village completely without borrowing any money. And the current planned expansion will mean providing some services not currently available at the Union City campus.

“We can’t be all things to all people, and we are interested in having people’s needs met. In order to do that we have to bring in people whose specialties are in various areas and collaborate with them. I think if anything is going on today in the charitable community, it’s collaboration,” he said.

“In order to do this it’s still going to depend on the community continuing to be involved with us and to a great degree on charitable (contributions) in our operations and our campus development. We don’t want to get dependent on the economy in terms of borrowing outlandish amounts of money. We don’t know where things are going to go, so we just build as funds are available.”

Crutchfield said the collaboration has to do with services that Christian City already provides or wants to expand. He noted a similar formula used over the years for the expansions of other programs.

“To deliver home healthcare, for example, you have to have a statewide license and a Certificate of Need which is very time consuming and you have to create another whole arm of the business. So there are providers out there. United Health Services-Pruitt Corporation is one of those. So we have talked about collaborating with them to provide home healthcare for us and in (other areas),” Crutchfield said.

“They also provide clinical services that would be very valuable to us to help keep our standards and raise our standards to the highest level possible. It’s not atypical of organizations to call on specialists in those areas. The discussions have been extensive and broad-based but we have not achieved a full agreement on what they would be doing for us and how they would go about doing it.“

Whether with UHS-Pruitt or some other provider, Crutchfield said the organization expects to proceed with the expansion.

“In good collaborations where the mission is supported completely and where you have good, common core values and where you have the same mission, it frees up a lot of our limited assets to work toward the development of the campus. And that’s what our strategic plan calls for. So if we’re going to be fund-raising, I’d rather not be not be fund-raising for operations, but for additional facilities,” Crutchfield explained.

“So we have great plans and I just didn’t want people to feel like something was underfoot that wasn’t, something that had no foundation to it whatsoever. When people hear about collaboration they hear it through their own filter, but I can just assure the public we’re not going anywhere. We have no plans to sell and we haven’t had one discussion with anybody on things like that.”

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