Our History

Rutherford Hospital Timeline

March 6, 1906
John C. Mills approaches the Rutherfordton Town Council with an offer from Dr. and Mrs. Henry Norris to purchase the Rutherford Military Institute property for $1,500.  The town accepts the offer and transfers the deed to the Norrises on April 1.

June 23, 1906
The State of North Carolina issues a certificate of incorporation to Rutherford Hospital.
Dr. and Mrs. Henry Norris and Dr. Montgomery H. Biggs are listed as officers.

October 6, 1906
Rutherford Hospital, Inc. opens to the public.

Spring 1907
Mrs. Ethel Norris founds the Rutherford Hospital School of Nursing.

Fall 1907
Construction completed on St. Luke's Chapel.  Today St. Luke’s Chapel is still a vital part of the hospital used the staff and community.  In 1992 the Rutherford Hospital Auxiliary took steps to have the property placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  St. Luke’s and the Mission House are the only structures still standing from the hospital’s earliest days.

March 9, 1911
The remodeled military school does not meet the needs of patient care for the community.  A new building was completed on this date at a cost of $100,000 and was funded privately by Mrs. Norris and her mother, Mrs. Charles Wheeler.

May 26, 1922
$100,000 worth of radium arrives in Rutherfordton from Colorado for use at RHI.  A radium clinic opens in July to treat cancer patients.

March 23, 1923
Patients from Georgia, coastal South Carolina, Tennessee and from across North Carolina and Virginia come to RHI for radium treatments.

April 1925
Dr. & Mrs. Norris and Dr. & Mrs. Biggs convert the hospital to a non-profit corporation.
Dr. & Mrs. Norris and Dr. Biggs serve as directors and officer of the new corporation.

October 18, 1928
RHI is fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons.

May 18, 1944
The first supply of penicillin arrives at RHI.

March 1, 1945
Construction begins on an addition to Norris Hall to house the growing number of student nurses entering the Cadet Nursing Program.

June 17, 1949
RHI receives approval from the North Carolina Medical Care Commission to proceed with building the new Norris-Biggs Memorial Wing.  The multi-purpose facility opened on October 17, 1951.

December 17, 1953
RHI announced plans to establish a department of Radiology. 

May 23, 1957
RHI employs 84 paid staff and operates a nursing school with 45 students.  The annual operating budget is $350,000.  The average daily cost per patient is $16.25.

December 7, 1961
Construction begins on the Norris-Biggs Clinic.  The 10,000 sq. ft. facility provides work space and offices for 10 specialists.

Spring 1963
A one-bed Intensive Care Unit was established.  Nurse Yvonne Bridges was sent for training to Emory University and returned to help staff the first coronary care unit at the hospital.

Spring 1965
The Rutherford Hospital School of Nursing graduates its last class.  The school was merged with the associate degree program at Gardner-Webb College on August 30th of that year.

October 14, 1965
The Women's Auxiliary of Rutherford Hospital is formed and officers are elected.  The name was later changed to the Rutherford Hospital Auxiliary when men joined the organization in 1977.

March 7, 1971
A new $5.1 million facility is opened at RHI to replace the 1911 structure.  The new facility increased the hospital’s bed capacity to 172.

June 14, 1971
Plans are announced to dispose of the remaining supply of radium given to the hospital in
1922.  The substance was deemed a health hazard and outdated in its effectiveness for use in modern medicine and slated for disposal deep in the Atlantic Ocean

June 4, 1974
Long-time hospital employee, Daniel G. Anderson, passes away at the age of 87.  Anderson was employed in May 1910 and worked on the construction of the institution's first new facility which was completed in 1911.  He completed a total of 51 years of service at RHI including positions in housekeeping and the laundry.  He was affectionately known to many of his fellow employees and around the community as "Uncle Dan."  A portrait of him hangs in the Museum of Rutherford Hospital located near the Outpatient Services area.

April 7, 1986
RHI announces its largest renovation and expansion project to date.  At a cost of $13 million, the Hospital plans to add two floors to the 1971 facility, construct a new lobby area and main entrance, relocate all Outpatient Services and demolish the 1951 Norris-Biggs Memorial Wing.

February 1987
RHI starts Homecare of Western North Carolina and today is known as Carolina Home Care.

July 1990
RHI opens the Lake Lure Area Medical Services.  A 2,500 sq. ft. facility consisting of six examining rooms, a treatment room and a lab.

January 15, 1991
RHI opens a new 14-bed psychiatric unit for adult patients on the fifth floor of the patient tower.

The Auxiliary sponsors nominating of St. Luke's Chapel to the National Register of Historic Places.

July 1992
Renovations completed on the new RHI Nursery.  The expansion included the addition of a parenting room and a special room for mothers to feed their babies within the nursery.

August 1, 1992
A triage system is implemented for the emergency department.

February 1, 1995
The Volunteer Chaplain Program begins under the leadership of Rev. Billy Honeycutt with 36 ministers who attended the initial training session.

October 1, 1995
RHI purchases the Dr. Charles James Medical Practice in Caroleen in an effort to improve access to healthcare in the southeastern part of the county.

November 12, 1995
The 50,000 sq. ft RHI Outpatient and Surgery Center officially opens with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Congressman Charles Taylor.

April 15, 1996
A 4,000 sq. ft. Oncology Center opens.  The center is designed for the research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

March 10, 1997
RHI acquires the Becknell Family Practice in Forest City.

October 1997
Groundbreaking ceremonies held for Rutherford East Medical Services.  The 5,000 sq. ft. facility was constructed at a cost of $260,000 on a 32-acre site located off Hwy 120 near US 74-A.

February 1998
New gift shop opens in the main lobby staffed by the Auxiliary.

March 1998
The Duke Endowment provides $53,000 to assist in the development of a Parish Nursing
Program at RHI.

August, 29, 1998
Ribbon-cutting ceremonies held for Rutherford East Pharmacy located in Mooresboro (owed and operated by RHI).

September 15, 1998
RHI acquires the medical practice of Drs. England and Godfrey in Forest City.

October 2001
Construction begins on The Birth Place and the Intensive Care Unit.

January 2003
Rev. Don Ledbetter is hired as RHI's full-time hospital chaplain.  He will also supervise the Clinical Pastoral Education program.

October 10, 2003
The Auxiliary announces that it support of hospital programs has surpassed the $2 million mark.

November 2003
A pet therapy program begins for patients at RHI.

July 2004
RHI receives a grant of $59,526 from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for increased preparedness and to combat bioterrorism.

June 16, 2004
Construction begins on the Museum of Rutherford Hospital located in the Outpatient Center.  The Museum collection consists of hundreds of artifacts dating to the hospital's beginning days.

March 2005
Artist Clive Haynes completes a 45-foot mural depicting the history of Rutherford Hospital on an interior wall adjacent to the Rutherford Hospital Museum collection.

March 2005
RHI is recognized as a Top 100 Hospital by Solucient for being one of the nation's top performance improvement leader hospital.

April 1, 2005
RHI reports a total of 794 employees (included full-time and part-time).

October 2005
History Book:  Rutherford Hospital:  The Legend & Legacy by Robin Lattimore celebrates 100 years of healthcare.

October 6, 2006 
Rutherford Hospital celebrates 100 years of healthcare.

October 2006
Acquisition of Rutherford Surgical Associates

March 2007
For the second year in a row, RHI is recognized as a Top 100 Hospital by Solucient for being one of the nation's top performance improvement leader hospital.

July 2007
Acquisition of Rutherford Orthopaedics

August 2007 
RHI was recognized as a 5-Star Hospital by Cleverly + Associates for providing value to the community, is financially viable, is appropriately reinvesting back into the facility, maintains a lower internal cost structure and has reasonable and competitive charges.

October 2007 
RHI purchased digital mammography.

March 2008
For the third year in a row, RHI is recognized as a Top 100 Hospital by Thomson Reuters for being one of the nation's top performance improvement leader hospital.

April 2008
Ribbon-cutting ceremony for 4th Surgical Floor remodel. 

May 2008
Emergency Department expanded to accommodate behavioral health intake patients due to closing of mental health entity in the county.

July 2008 
Carolina Community Care has been named a National Best Practice Agency for 2007 by Fazzi Associates for being a proven leader and excelled in one of the most important measures of an agency’s quality program – patient satisfaction.

August 2008
RHI is designated as a Top 100 Community Value Provider by Cleverly + Associates based on 1) financial viability and plant reinvestment; 2) Cost structure and 3) Charge structure. 

January 2009 
RHI adds the services of Pet/CT scan.

March 2009
For the fourth year in a row, RHI is recognized as a Top 100 Hospital by Thomson Reuters for being one of the nation's top performance improvement leader hospital.

April 2009 
Rutherford Cancer Resource Center opens.

July 2010
Rutherford Hospital learned that we had been named one of America's Top 20 Community Hospitals by Becker's Hospital Review.

October 2010
Rutherford Orthopaedics expands, effectively doubling the number of patient care rooms with all new digital x-ray equipment.

Corporate re-branding of Rutherford Regional Health System in May

Acquisition of Boiling Springs Family Care in Boiling Springs, NC

Moved location and changed name of England & Godfrey Family Practice:  Now called Forest City Family Care, 212 Allendale Drive, Forest City, NC

Opened Rutherford Children's Care, a new Pediatrics practice temporarily attending to patients in the Outpatient Department of Rutherford Regional Medical Center

Opened The Clinic at Walmart Operated by Rutherford Regional Health System, 197 Plaza Drive, Forest City, NC

Remodel of ground floor of Rutherford Regional Medical Center

Opened Rutherford Wound Care & Hyperbarics, 112 Sparks Drive, Forest City, NC

Rutherford Children's Care moves to its permanent location in a newly renovated building at 162 Commercial Drive, Forest City, NC

Received two national awards in July:  

  • Named One of America's 100 Great Community Hospitals by Becker's Hospital Review
  • Named a Community Value Leadership Award Five-Star Hospital by Cleverley & Associates

Opened Rutherford Urology, a new urology practice attending to patients in the Outpatient Department of Rutherford Regional Medical Center.

Entered into a joint venture with Duke LifePoint Healthcare