Our History: A Legacy of Caring

Our History: A Legacy of Caring

In 1885, a small group of women set out to establish a place in Asheville where the sick and those in need of a home could heal. The result of these four women, known as “The Little Flower Mission,” is Mission Health’s history, the hospitals that preceded it and the city that nurtured it. The Little Flower Mission, led by Miss Anna Woodfin, revolutionized healthcare in western North Carolina as we know it today.

Four women’s vision of a hospital in Asheville started by raising money selling flowers on the streets downtown. Their vision was simple: to care for those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. They opened a hospital on a shoestring budget on October 6, 1885 in a rented five-room house with donated furniture and materials. Mission Hospital would officially care for its first patient, a woman in labor, on October 17, 1885 and grow under the leadership of women for the next 63 years.

The first patient at Mission Hospital was carried from her nearby home on a little borne by two men. Today, critically ill and injured patients from throughout the region may arrive by air ambulance helicopter (better known as MAMA). The four women of the Little Flower Mission couldn’t have imagined their little hospital would result in the modern medical center that serves western North Carolina today.

What began with the vision and tenacity of Anna Woodfin, Fanny Patton, Rose Chapman and Lily Carmichael, a staff physician and a matron more than 130 years ago in a five-room house has grown to support all of western North Carolina.

Mission Health has prevailed because of the determination of a handful of volunteers and the support of dedicated physicians and caregivers who started it all. In that sense, little has changed. Mission Health thrives on opportunity and we value our role as the region’s leader in advanced healthcare and specialized services, and as our region’s largest employer to provide our team members with meaningful work that changes the lives of our neighbors across western North Carolina.

Learn more about Mission Health’s community hospitals and locations: