Hospital’s role truly has changed

Published 12:24 am Tuesday, May 8, 2007

By Staff
As Beaufort County Hospital nears its 50th birthday, officials are taking a look to see if it’s time to change the name.
That makes sense.
The name and the basic structure of the original wing are about the only things that haven’t changed since the hospital opened in 1950s.
Some hospitals in recent years have opted for the title “medical center.”
Whatever you call it, Beaufort County Hospital is clearly more than just a county hospital.
The Lifestyles Medical Fitness Center, which opened in 2001, has 1,400 members. In just the past few years, the radiology department was expanded and in-house MRI services were added. The labor and delivery room was renovated and two years later, the hospital computerized the radiography department.
The largest new project is the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center. It has grown from an outreach clinic that operated one day a week to a free-standing building that will soon have a linear accelerator to treat cancer. The Shepard Center treats nearly 1,200 patients a year and opened in early 2006. Just last month, the Shepard Center was one of a handful of facilities selected to get to choose which clinical trials it wants to be a part of.
That’s not all. A current $13 million expansion project is just the latest in a string of improvements designed to meet a growing need for services in the region. The 38,600-square-foot modernization and renovation project will include a new surgical department, visitors’ lobby and support space. It will also free up other areas of the hospital for renovation.
Times clearly have changed and the hospital has changed with them. When Bedsole joined the hospital in 1987, two-thirds of the business came from in-patient care. Today that figure is one-third. In 10 years, who knows what will happen?
Bedsole is also keenly aware that BCH will never compete with Pitt Memorial Hospital when it comes to advanced care and that it shouldn’t try.
A name that better reflects the mission of Beaufort County Hospital is in order.