The Laurel: Eckerd Living Center

One visit to the Eckerd Living Center (ELC) in Highlands and you can tell the staff is dedicated to the residents. In large part, that is due to the Nursing Home Administrator, Ava Emory. Emory started working at ELC 18 years ago while in nursing school at Western Carolina University and has worked her way through nursing assistant to registered nurse to chief nursing officer to her current position as administrator.

Her staff offers a myriad of therapies and activities to the residents, and Emory feels it is thanks to their affiliation with Mission Health and the Highlands-Cashiers Hospital Foundation that this is possible. The center consistently rates high in satisfaction with patients and families and surpasses required staff-to-resident ratios.

Emory says it is a good reflection of how well the Eckerd Living Center is run that her staff turnover is well below industry average. “We do not have a revolving door of staff. As a matter of fact several of my employees have been here longer than I have. Consistency is vital to meet state-mandated guidelines but more importantly, we find seeing the same face over and over again is better for residents with cognitive issues,” Emory says.

You’ll find a variety of residents there requiring different kinds of treatment. Thanks to the availability of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy, each patient receives what they need to attain an ideal quality of life. The entire facility is secure, providing a safe environment for all who are there.

There is more to the center than treatments and therapies. A full-time activities staff and an active group of volunteers offer a wide variety of things to do in-house and off-site as well. The campus is surrounded by blooming flower and vegetable gardens, and there’s even a playground for youngsters.

It’s important to know that the Eckerd Living Center is different from an assisted living community. For patients to qualify to stay at the center, they must need 24-hour nursing care and the staff is quite knowledgeable about state guidelines.

For more information on the Eckerd Living Center in Highlands, visit or call them at (828) 526-1304.

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