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In the late 1980's the Board of Mission Hospitals made a major strategic decision. They realized the availability of health care for the children of Western North Carolina had fallen seriously behind other parts of the state and nation. They decided to create a children's hospital in Asheville to serve this region.
The journey has been long and eventful. The first phase of Mission Children's Hospital (originally known as the Ruth and Billy Graham Children's Health Center) was completed in 1994 with the opening of a new 19-bed inpatient floor and 9-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
For the remainder of the 1990's Dr. Olson Huff, founding medical director diligently recruited more and more pediatric specialists to Asheville where few had existed before.
By the year 2000 over 30 pediatric specialists had either been employed by Mission or joined other private physician practices in the area. Almost every major specialty is now represented.
Also during this time period the Children's Dental Program was started to bring free dental care to the remote rural areas of the Southern Appalachians surrounding Asheville. There are two 40 foot custom mobile units called Toothbuses, now serving 60 elementary schools in the region and also a surgical program for children with severe dental needs at Murphy Medical Center, WestCare in Sylva, Spruce Pine Community Hospital in Spruce Pine and at Mission in Asheville.
In 2003 the second phase of Mission Children's Hospital was completed with the opening of the Nancy and George Cecil Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This 50-bed unit has become a national model for design, atmosphere and state of the art equipment. Over $6 million in local contributions helped to build this new facility that cares for over 800 fragile newborns each year.
Reuter Children's Outpatient Center Opens
On April 25, 2006, the final phase was reached when Board of Trustees of Mission Healthcare Foundation turned over to the Hospital Board, debt-free, the new 70,000 square foot Reuter Outpatient Center. Over $11 million in local, state and national contributions totally funded the construction costs for this new state-of-the-art center.
It houses the Huff Child Development Center, the Zeis Children's Cancer Program; the Nash Clinics were 16 pediatric specialists now see their young patients; the Children's Dental program, the Wachovia Radiology Suite, the Kincaid Special Procedures Suite and the Mountain Child Evaluation Program for abused and neglected children. It is also home to the Ruth Bell Graham Spiritual and Family Center where the WNC Family Support Network is housed.
What was a dream nearly 20 years ago is now a reality and the winners are the children and families of Western North Carolina who now have the best of pediatric specialty care close to home delivered in state-of-the-art facilities.
What's next for Mission Children's Hospital? Dr. Huff says "My goal is to now build a substantial endowment fund to sustain these wonderful programs forever!"
Click here to support Mission Children's Hospital.