Beaufort County Hospital: a look back

Published 1:07 am Thursday, August 25, 2011

Decisions affecting the future of health care in Beaufort County are nothing new.

The health-care issue has surfaced over the years.

Program from the Beaufort County Hospital dedication ceremony May 9, 1958. (Submitted Image)

It was an issue that divided the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. Only after spirited debate, and several failed attempts, did the board go ahead with a bond referendum that would decide the fate of health care in the county.

The year was 1955, when Beaufort County’s voters went to the polls to decide whether to support the issuance of $650,000 in bonds, and a subsequent increase in property taxes, to build a county hospital.

The referendum’s result: The proposal passed by an overwhelming margin, and on May 9, 1958, Beaufort County Hospital opened to its first patients.

By the years

  • 1955 — Voters approved a bond referendum for construction of a county hospital by a vote of 2,494 to 732. A 10-cent tax levy passed by a slightly closer vote.
  • 1958 — Beaufort County Hospital was dedicated and admitted its first patient, Mrs. Horace Lee of Douglas Crossroads, according to one historical account.
  • 1959 — The fourth floor wing of the hospital was built with 10 large private rooms.
  • 1960 — The Radiology Department was expanded with the addition of an X-ray unit used in diagnostic procedures.
  • 1965 — Cardiopulmonary Department was organized.
  • 1967 — County ambulance service was taken over by the hospital.
  • 1969 — Beaufort County Hospital nearly doubled its physical plant by building the hospital’s east wing.
  • 1970 — Volunteer program began and urology services were first offered.
  • 1972 — Fourth-floor psychiatric unit opened in conjunction with Tideland Mental Health and physical therapy services were first offered.
  • 1975 — Radiology Department was expanded with the purchase of new X-ray equipment.
  • 1980 — Around-the-clock physician coverage was first available in the hospital’s emergency room.
  • 1984 — Intensive Care Unit was moved and renovated.
  • 1987 — The Emergency Department was remodeled.
  • 2001 —Lifestyles Medical Fitness Center was opened.
  • 2002 — Radiology Department was expanded and Beaufort County Hospital joined with Pitt County Memorial Hospital to add in-house magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI.
  • 2006 — Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center was opened.
  • 2008 — A 38,612-square-foot modernization and expansion project — including a new visitors’ lobby, admissions area and new surgical department — was completed.
  • 2009 — The first surgery was performed in the new surgical suite.
  • 2010 — White Rheumatology was opened.

Source: Beaufort Regional Health System historical files.

Compiled by Betty Mitchell Gray