Cornerstone Care to open much-needed call center in city

Rick Shrum

Cornerstone Care Community Health Centers had an urgent need for a call center. And for space.

Then two months ago, the nonprofit network found a location for sale in downtown Washington that would accommodate those needs. On Jan. 15, Cornerstone Care purchased the building at 351 W. Beau St. for $1.15 million – at an opportune moment.

“This all came together,” said Richard Rinehart, Cornerstone Care’s chief executive officer. “We figured now is the time to jump.”

The call center is not yet operational, as renovations are still ongoing on the middle floor of the three-story structure, where Cornerstone will operate. Rinehart, however, expects the center to go live within two weeks, with four handling the phones initially.

Employees from other departments will work on the second floor as well, once construction there is completed, probably in early 2022. Cornerstone Care has 13 fixed-site locations in four counties, including offices on Jefferson Avenue in Washington.

Cornerstone will share the West Beau building with two tenants. Nova Care Rehabilitation is on the lower level, and the Washington Greene County Job Training Agency is on the top.

The sale occurred at a time when coronavirus vaccines were beginning to roll out more regularly.

“All of a sudden, we were overwhelmed with people trying to register,” Rinehart said. “Switchboards were frozen with calls. We started to get 2,000 calls a day. We hired more people for phones and wondered where we would put them.”

When the vaccine has been available, Cornerstone has been scheduling appointments for shots at its facilities that provide medical services, and with its mobile team. The system also provides testing at those locations.

“Vaccine supply has been issue,” Rinehart said. “We hope that improves. Now teachers are in (the 1-A category). That should be a game changer.”

A Washington native, Darin Shriver, brokered the sale. Shriver is a vice president with the Pittsburgh office of Cushman Wakefield, a commercial real estate services firm. Washington-based Chapman Corp. was among the property’s previous owners.

For Rinehart, the transaction is part of a whirlwind of experiences that have impacted Cornerstone Care – along with the rest of the world.

“The whole experience of COVID has opened our eyes about infection control, air exchange, ventilation and social distancing,” he said. “We’re evolving like a lot of health-care providers. The only constant in health care is change.”