By Sarah Hall
Rowan Memorial Hospital opened its doors to patients Aug. 1, 1936, with 80 beds and a 65-member staff. This followed more than four years of hard work and zeal by community-spirited citizens and medical professionals who raised $180,000 in spite of the Great Depression.
The forerunner of Rowan Memorial was the Whitehead-Stokes Sanitarium, a private hospital opened by Dr. John Whitehead and Dr. J. Ernest Stokes, located on the northeast corner of Liberty and Fulton streets. In 1920, ownership was transferred to the public and the facility was renamed Salisbury Hospital, then reorganized again in 1932 as Rowan General Hospital. The building had been enlarged to accommodate 60 patients, but the need for a larger, fire-proof structure was apparent.
Attorney Burton Craige is credited with initiating the project, and Mrs. E.C. Gregory suggested the hospital be built by contributions from families wishing to establish memorials. Archibald Henderson, Mrs. Elizabeth Henderson Cotton, John S. Henderson Jr. and Miss Mary Henderson gave the four-acre site located in what was then suburbs, on Mocksville Avenue.
Others who led the way in the fundraising efforts were Mrs. Margaret Cunningham Craig, Stahle Linn, the Knox sisters, Mrs. David Oestreicher and her son Irvin, Mr. and Mrs. B.P. Beard and the Wallace family. Application to the Duke Endowment resulted in a donation of $70,000, provided the community raise another $90,000. Contributions came in from local physicians, the Episcopal Church guilds, the Nurses' Association, schoolchildren, Catawba students and others.
In April 1933, building fund contributors elected nine trustees and established Rowan Memorial Hospital Inc. Officers were A.S. Jones, president; Bryce P. Beard, vice president; James E. Stokes, secretary; and J.L. Fisher, treasurer. On Aug. 28, 1935, Jones turned the first spade of dirt, and on Oct. 17 Grand Master Charles B. Newcomb of North Carolina's Grand Lodge of Masons laid a cornerstone of Rowan granite.
The building was completed June 1, but an additional $26,000 was required to equip it. The trustees had raised this amount by July 8, when an open house was held for the public, attended by more than 3,000 people. In a brief service on the front steps, those in attendance sang a verse of "America," and St. Luke's Episcopal Church's pastor M.A. Milne gave an invocation. Building committee chairman Beard received the keys from the contractor, and he gave them to Jones, who said he had no use for them since the hospital would be open 24 hours a day.
On Dec. 1, 1995, the hospital's name was changed to Rowan Regional Medical Center to reflect the larger area it serves and its added technologies. It is licensed for 308 beds and its staff includes 160 doctors.
Currently, a new patient tower and emergency department are under construction, with completion scheduled for summer 2006.
Medical center's growth
1936 -- Rowan Memorial Hospital opens with 28,294 square feet and 80 beds.
1940s and '50s -- Added 133,458 square feet, including East wing patient rooms and the North wing.
1967 -- Added 61,500 square feet, including West wing patient rooms, new Emergency Department, new front entrance, hospitality shop, gift shop and a new chiller room (which provided central air conditioning).
1982 -- Added 100,775 square feet for the following departments: Surgery, Recovery, Emergency, Medical Records, Physical Therapy, Central Sterilization, Receiving, Loading Dock, Pharmacy, Laboratory and Radiology.
1995 -- Rowan Memorial Hospital becomes Rowan Regional Medical Center in December.
1997 -- South Rowan Medical Mall opens in China Grove in January. A major project on the Mocksville Avenue campus opens in July and adds 96,080 square feet with construction of two major areas: Wilson L. Smith Family Outpatient Center and Kiser Medical Office Building.
2000 -- Added 12,000 square feet, including renovation and expansion of the main lobby, cafeteria, kitchen, gift shop and hospitality shop, including new rest rooms and private meeting/conference rooms near the main lobby. The medical center's total square footage following this project is 432,107, not counting the parking garage.
2003 -- Rowan Regional Medical Park on Julian Road is completed. The Imaging and Physical Rehabilitation Center opens in August and the Outpatient Surgery Center in October.
2006 -- The new patient tower and Emergency Department are scheduled for completion in the summer.
Contact Sarah Hall at 704-797-4271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.