The Laurels of Summit Ridge Treats its Residents Like Family

Tom Dula serves as administrator for The Laurels at Summit Ridge.

At The Laurels of Summit Ridge, administrator Tom Dula spends a good deal of time talking with residents.

“I’m not the type of administrator who is in the office a lot,” Dula says. “I try to be out and about.”

Dula says he also encourages employees to treat residents as if they were their mother or grandfather.

“It’s almost like the hospitality business,” Dula says. “We check in with new people. Each new guest is assigned a manager to make sure they’re getting everything they need.”

Dula says he also works to ensure that the employees are happy and treated with consideration. That’s his philosophy.

Set in a forested location near the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Asheville, The Laurels of Summit Ridge offers skilled nursing and intermediate care for short and long-term stays along with assisted living. Short-term services include rehabilitation and respite care.

Many of the residents at the facility are referred from acute care hospitals, says Sherrye Perry, director of marketing for The Laurels at Summit Ridge.

“We are that interim stop,” she says. “We offer physical therapy, occupational and speech therapy, and outpatient therapy.”

A staff of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nursing assistants cares for residents along with an attending physician who serves as medical director at The Laurels of Summit Ridge.

The facility is in the process of renovation and has recently opened a new wing with private rooms for residents seeking assisted living accommodations. There are 26 private rooms at the facility, which has a capacity of 84 residents.

The Laurels of Summit Ridge has a main dining room and also offers room service for those who choose to take meals in their rooms. The daily menu has a selection of meal choices as well as five items such as fruit and cottage cheese that are always available.

Residents have complimentary cable TV and telephone access, daily mail and newspaper delivery, housekeeping and laundry services, beauty and barber shop services and a scheduled transportation van. Safety and security systems are in place at the facility.

One feature that the Laurels of Summit Ridge does not have is a locked unit for patients suffering from dementia of Alzheimer’s disease, Perry said. However, patients with these illnesses are cared for at the facility. A landscaped courtyard in the center of campus provides a safe space for people who enjoy getting outdoors.

The facility also has an activities director who plans social events, entertainment programs and other activities designed to enhance personal growth. Crafts, wellness programs, cooking classes, celebrations, outings and games are offered. Church services also are available.

The Laurels of Summit Ridge accepts Medicare and Medicaid, as well as third-party insurance and private pay for services.

“We get a lot of repeat business, which is telling. It shows our level of quality of care,” Dula says.

Dula has been working in rehabilitation and nursing care facilities for the past 30 years in Michigan and Florida. He has been with The Laurels of Summit Ridge for the past year.

“I love Asheville,” he says.

The Laurels of Summit Ridge is at 100 Riceville Rd., Asheville. For more information, call 828-299-1110 or visit the website at

The facility is associated with The Laurels Health Care Company, which has centers in North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan and Ohio.

By Sandra Barnes