Dosher Memorial Hospital celebrated its 92nd birthday Saturday with a community cookout and by honoring one of its former longtime CEOs.
Edgar Haywood III served as the hospital’s CEO from 1992 to 2012, and an annual scholarship awarded by the hospital to a healthcare student at Brunswick Community College will be named in his honor.
Current Dosher CEO and President Lynda Stanley made that announcement at the cookout, stating Haywood had served as a “leader, mentor and a friend” to her when they worked together.
“Your vision and investment in your staff changed lives,” said Stanley.
Haywood said when he was hired as CEO it didn’t take long to figure out Dosher’s role in the community. When speaking before a civic group, several members pulled him aside and told him, “Don’t you dare mess up our hospital,” he recalled.
“I told them, I would do my best not to mess up our hospital,” said Haywood. “That’s when it hit me just how much the community loves this hospital.”
During his tenure, Haywood said Dosher had some ups and downs but it always survived to remain a part of the community.
“Ninety-two years ago, the lights came on and there was somebody in here that could take care of it,” said Haywood. “For 92 years, it has been going strong.”
Construction costs for the original hospital totaled $33,000 and were raised through a $15,000 Duke Endowment grant, county tax levy, city bond referendum and $3,000 in private donations. The hospital opened June 2, 1930, with two medical staff members and five additional support personnel.
Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Joe Pat Hatem said the Duke Endowment chose to help Southport build a hospital because it already had a quality surgeon, Dr. J. Arthur Dosher, for whom the hospital is named. Dosher was one of two physicians who served all of Brunswick County in the early 1900s.
“They built this hospital around him,” said Hatem, who said he has loved working at Dosher for the past 37 years.
“I look forward to many more years, maybe not 37 more years,” Hatem said.
Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Howard told how a change in leadership four years ago and investment in technology led to the financial recovery of Dosher, reviving it from possible bankruptcy.
“We understand we cannot rest,” said Howard. “The need to expand continues.”
Some news reports have indicated developers of the Indigo Phase II project, which could double the population of Southport when it is fully built out, hope to form a relationship with Dosher. Those reports state Project Indigo plans to include about 80,000 square feet of mixed-use facilities to include medical office space.
“We have not been in contact with the developers regarding this,” said Howard. “Should it come about, we commit to you that Dosher will explore any opportunities with due diligence.”
While about 225 people sent in RSVPs for the cookout, many more residents actually attended Saturday’s outdoor event near the rear entrance on North Atlantic Avenue. Staff and volunteers quickly ran out of food, but that didn’t hamper the celebration.
“Thank you to our community,” said Stanley. “I have been a part of Dosher Hospital for 36 years, and I am grateful. It is the people of this community that have been like family.”
Trustee Randy Jones, the great-grandchild of Dr. J. Arthur Dosher, said it was an honor to represent the Dosher family at the celebration.
“I would love to know what my great-grandfather thought we would be 92 years later,” said Jones. “This is a community hospital, built by the community.”