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Hospital history

Read on to learn how the continued growth and expansion of Highlands-Cashiers Hospital has enabled us to serve more members of our community and bring high-quality healthcare to Western North Carolina.

Comprehensive hospital care in Macon County

After serving in Italy during World War II, Dr. William H. Matthews returned to the beloved mountains of North Carolina where he had spent the summers of his youth. Recognizing a need for a hospital in Highlands, he quickly convinced community leaders to help him fulfill his vision. Chartered in 1947 as a non-profit organization, the Highlands Community Hospital opened its doors on January 2, 1952. This first facility was a small, wood-framed structure with wards that housed a total of eight acute-care beds. It was located on a tract of land donated by the late Eva Cleveland, at the intersection on what is now 5th and South Street in Highlands.

In 1966, a major expansion and renovation tripled the number of hospital beds. The hospital also got a new name to more accurately reflect the areas it served: Highlands-Cashiers Hospital.

By 1974, the hospital was serving 400 patients a year, with another 1,400 visiting the emergency room. By the late 1980s, the hospital had outgrown its aging facilities and was at another crossroads.

Beginning in 1988, the campaign for a new hospital rallied hundreds of supporters and raised more than $12.5 million over five years, with cornerstone gifts from the Woodruff, Oxford and Eckerd families. The result was a new 24-bed acute care facility, 80-bed skilled nursing facility and a new medical office building, all located on a 40-acre campus in Macon County.

Since opening in March 1993, the new hospital began a period of unprecedented growth in the numbers of patients being served. Additionally, a new 20,000-square-foot medical office building, the Jane Woodruff Building, opened in 1995, while another 52,000-square-foot medical building, the Jane Woodruff Clinic, opened in the fall of 2004.

Likewise, our emergency department continued to see growth, with a new, leading edge emergency facility opening in 2017.

Throughout our history, what has never changed is our commitment to you. The bedrock of our hospital's values is the ability to serve you more completely and compassionately. As our community grows, we intend to continue to grow with it; expanding our facilities, services and level of care, all in the interest of ensuring that you and your family have the most positive healthcare experience possible.