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Highland-Cashiers Hospital History

After serving in Italy during World War II, Dr. William H. Matthews returned to the beloved mountains of North Carolina where he had spent the summers of his youth. Recognizing a need for a hospital in Highlands, he quickly convinced community leaders to help him fulfill his vision. Chartered in 1947 as a non-profit organization, the Highlands Community Hospital opened its doors on January 2, 1952, in a small wood-framed structure with wards that housed a total of eight acute-care beds. It was located at the intersection on what is now 5th and South Street in Highlands on a tract of land donated by the late Eva Cleveland.

In 1966, a major expansion and renovation tripled the number of hospital beds. The hospital also got a new name, becoming Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, to more accurately reflect the areas it served.

By 1974, the hospital was serving 400 patients a year with another 1,400 visiting the emergency room. By the late 1980s, the hospital had outgrown its aging facilities and was at another crossroads.

Begun in 1988, the campaign for a new hospital rallied hundreds of supporters and raised more than $12.5 million over five years with cornerstone gifts from the Woodruff, Oxford and Eckerd families. The result was a new 24-bed acute care facility, an 80-bed skilled nursing facility and a new medical office building – all located on a 40-acre campus in Macon County.

Since its opening in March 1993, the hospital has seen a period of unprecedented growth in the numbers of patients being served. A new 20,000-square-foot medical office building, the Jane Woodruff Building, was opened in 1995, and another 52,000-square-foot medical building, the Jane Woodruff Clinic, was completed and opened in the fall of 2004.

Likewise, our emergency department continued to see growth, leading to the building of and summer 2017 opening of a new state-of-the-art emergency department facility.


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