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Rowan medical center tops fundraising goal

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By Elizabeth Floyd

SALISBURY, N.C. — A $25 million capital campaign, believed to be the largest ever attempted in Rowan County, pulled in over $1 million more than expected for Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury.

The campaign raised almost $26.7 million in cash and pledges for a $55 million construction and renovation project to revitalize the medical center’s aging and overpopulated facilities.

Managing the campaign was the Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation, which solicits and manages community donations, using them to fund projects that fall outside the hospital’s general operating budget.

Campaign funds will help pay for a new emergency department, expanded heart-care center, a new health-services center for women and children, and a community education center.

The funds also will cover part of the cost of a new chapel and the conversion into private rooms of all shared rooms in the hospital.

The six-year campaign, which began its planning phase in 1999 under James Freeman, the medical center’s former CEO, was formally launched in 2002, and received broad support from the local community, says Robert Skelton, the foundation’s executive director.

Most of the dollars raised came from Rowan County, which has more than 136,000 residents.

The biggest donors were 90-year-old Wilson Smith and his family, who contributed nearly $7 million, including several challenge gifts that set the course for numerous additional donations.

“My dad is very community-minded and he’s had a number of health concerns,” says Ronnie Smith, who is Wilson’s son and served as campaign chair. “We felt very strongly that health care was something that if we could make a difference there, we would impact the lives of every single citizen and future generations.”

Gifts at the $1 million level came from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, philanthropists Fred and Alice Stanback of Salisbury, and retired physician Wayne Cline Sr., and his wife, Deane.

Skelton says the capital campaign should boost annual giving.

And while the foundation discontinued an annual employee-giving program in 1999 in anticipation of the campaign, he says, the campaign more than offset the dollars the annual appeal might have raised.

The hospital’s employees contributed $750,000 to the capital campaign, well over the $500,000 employee goal and more than six times what the foundation would have received in eight years of annual gifts.

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