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YMCA of Catawba Valley, UNC Health Blue Ridge Form Innovative Partnership to Advance Wellness Across the Region

Morganton, N.C. – YMCA of Catawba Valley and UNC Health Blue Ridge, two of the state’s leading health and wellness advocates, are joining forces to prevent disease, promote wellness and improve quality of life for families across the region.

Through the new relationship, the YMCA will assume management of the Phifer Wellness Center in Morganton, which will be renamed Phifer Family YMCA.  UNC Health Blue Ridge will remain the exclusive healthcare partner for the Phifer Family YMCA.  The partnership will take effect November 1, 2022.

Jon Mercer, COO of UNC Health Blue Ridge, said “There are tremendous opportunities for collaboration between the two not-for-profit organizations, with the YMCA and UNC Health Blue Ridge working together to address everything from childhood obesity to cancer survivorship.  This partnership is another important step that reflects our commitment to be solely focused on our local communities and patients by enhancing, growing and securing access to superior health and wellness right here at home. At UNC Health Blue Ridge, we are committed to exploring innovative rural healthcare models that will make our healthcare system a leader in value-based care regionally and across the state.

With just a few minor renovations, the facility will be converted into an exceptional YMCA, immediately offering YMCA memberships, health and wellness services, and aquatic programming. Youth and Family programs will be phased in over time to compliment existing programs and to fulfill commitment needs identified in recent feasibility study. The existing facility, located at 2165 S Sterling St in Morganton, includes a racquetball court, 4-lane indoor pool, locker rooms, cardio and strength equipment, Cross-Fit studio, group exercise studio, offices, and spaces for classrooms/education.  Other benefits to be offered by the YMCA include:

  • No annual contracts
  • Access to hundreds of YMCAs nationwide
  • Clean and safe facilities
  • Drop-in childcare for families
  • Unlimited group exercise classes will be included with membership
  • Discounts on YMCA programs (swim lessons, afterschool, wellness and youth programs)

Current members of Phifer Wellness Center will have a seamless transition into a YMCA membership and enjoy numerous additional benefits such as access to YMCA facilities across the region, state and around the US.  The YMCA plans to maintain existing programs while introducing new programs that will serve families.  Currently the YMCA serves as the afterschool provider for 10 elementary schools throughout Burke County which serves over 500 families.

“UNC Health Blue Ridge and our YMCA share a passion for serving others and a commitment to wellness,” said Nat Auten, CEO of YMCA of Catawba Valley. “Working together, we are committed to giving young people the resources to reach their potential, providing individuals with the access and support to lead healthy lives and connecting neighbors to evidence-based programs so we can come together for the common good.  Our two organizations have a long history of collaboration with community leaders and organizations, and this new partnership will only enhance those efforts as we work together for the health of the communities we serve.”




Danette Brackett, MHA                                      Gerry Knox, MBA

Business Development                                      Development Director

Office: 828-580-5690                                       Office: 828-324-9622

UNC Health Blue Ridge                                      YMCA of Catawba Valley                    




ABOUT: UNC Health Blue Ridge

UNC Health Blue Ridge ( is a not-for-profit community healthcare system, providing advanced healthcare and wellness services from more than 40 locations across a three-county region of Western North Carolina. The system includes one hospital with two locations, a wellness center, and a continuing care retirement community. Nearly 140 primary care physicians, physician specialists and extenders in the Blue Ridge Medical Group combine with other physicians on the Medical Staff to serve patients in the region. UNC Health Blue Ridge provides graduate medical education programs for medical school graduates and students in allopathic and osteopathic medicine.  UNCBR is affiliated with UNC Health System (, a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill



The YMCA of Catawba Valley was established in 1969 to strengthen our community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.  The Y engages over 40,000 men, women and children each year – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the community’s health and well-being and to provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. The Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. The Y mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.