When Peter Harding, M.D., applied to be the medical director of Avery Point, the brand-new Erickson Senior Living community in Short Pump, Va., he was impressed by what he saw at the community.
"I really liked Erickson Senior Living's health care model," notes Harding. "Unlike most doctors' offices, the health care professionals at Erickson communities are encouraged to take all the time they need to learn about patients' health history, their health concerns, and who they are as people."
"Also," he continues, "I found the residents at Avery Point to be fascinating people - their main motivator is staying independent. What a great goal to have! I wanted to help them by keeping them healthy."
Given his extensive health care background and his interest in helping seniors live fuller lives, Harding was welcomed onto Avery Point's leadership team in early 2023 with open arms.
Not far from the tree
Although Harding was born in California, he spent his early years in Nepal, where his parents served as medical missionaries.
"My dad helped set up a public health department and a lot of different clinics," Harding recalls. "When we lived in Nepal, it was a third-world country. We only had electricity when the generator was running for the hospital - whenever they were doing surgeries, basically. They had wind-up telephones that they would use to call the hospital, and we had a wood stove and kerosene lamps."
Ten years later, Harding and his family moved back to the states.
"Moving to North Carolina was quite the culture shock!" Harding says. "But I look back on our time in Nepal fondly. I can still speak Nepali."
Upon graduating high school, Harding attended Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., on a three-year ROTC scholarship. He met his wife Ingrid there, and they've been happily married for 32 years.
Harding enlisted in the army after college, then earned a master's degree in environmental science at Baylor University. Despite his expertise, there weren't a lot of jobs in the field at the time, so he decided to change course.
He attended medical school on a U.S. Air Force scholarship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. After completing his residency at the Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, Harding moved from state to state, practicing internal medicine.
His family, including children Pierce (24), Sarah (22), and Gretchen (20) - landed in Florida, where they stayed for 13 years. There, he set up a clinic for low-income, underinsured patients and served as its medical director.
'The perfect storm'
While Harding isn't new to health care, he's new to the Richmond area.
The Hardings originally considered a move to Virginia for Sarah, who was born with Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a rare neurological disorder with only about 600 cases worldwide.
"When Sarah aged out of the school system at 21, we had some difficulty finding aides who could assist her in Florida. Richmond, however, has many more opportunities," explains Harding.
Moving to Virginia also meant living closer to Pierce, who's working toward a master's degree at the University of Virginia, and Gretchen, who is attending the University of Richmond.
They were able to purchase Ingrid's grandmother's house, which had just gone up for sale in the area.
"Then," he adds, "I discovered the open position at Avery Point - truly the perfect storm! There's always something fulfilling about building a health center, especially from the beginning. I get to do that here, and I'm grateful for the opportunity."
Like all Erickson Senior Living communities, Avery Point offers health care for its residents at the medical center on campus.
Whether you're looking to schedule a yearly checkup or a same-day appointment to address a concern, full-time, board-certified health care professionals are just a call away.
"For residents visiting the medical center for the first time, we usually spend an hour with them - to chat about everything, really. Your medical history, well-being goals, your grandkids, new hobbies, you name it," notes Harding. "But we love spending time with our returning patients, too."
Some people prefer to keep their off-campus doctors and specialists, but many residents say the convenience of on-site care can't be beat.
"Erickson Senior Living's key to health care is providing an integrated health and well-being model, which is designed to preserve residents' independence," he says.
Harding, who's already created a solid foundation, is looking forward to hiring additional staff, making connections with specialists for referrals, and welcoming even more new patients to the practice.
To learn more about affordable, independent senior living at Avery Point, request your free brochure to get the scoop on amenities, floor plans, and so much more.