Mission Health System

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Mission Health
FoundedDating back to 1885

Mission Health, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is the state's sixth-largest health system, serving much of western North Carolina with more than 12,000 employees and 2,000 volunteers. A sale to HCA Healthcare became final February 1, 2019, in which it was sold as a nonprofit to a for-profit company.[1] The proceeds went to a nonprofit foundation, the Dogwood Health Trust, which plans to distribute annual grants focused on healthcare.[2]

Mission Health in Asheville

Mission Health, which traces its roots in the region back to 1885, operates six hospitals, numerous outpatient and surgery centers, home health provider CarePartners, and the region's only dedicated Level II trauma center. Its medical staff consists of more than 1,000 physicians and is certified in more than 50 medical specialties and sub-specialties. Mission Health has seven Centers of Excellence: Cancer, Heart, Neurosciences, Orthopedics, Trauma, Women's Health and Mission Children's Hospital, the region's only children's hospital.

Mission Hospital, located in Asheville, is the system's flagship hospital and is licensed for 795 beds. It is the regional referral center for tertiary and quaternary care.

Other Mission Health member hospitals include Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands, McDowell Hospital in Marion and Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard.


Mission Hospital traces its roots to 1885, when a group of women calling themselves "The Little Flower Mission" saw a need for a hospital in Asheville that would care for those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. They raised funds by selling flowers on the streets of the city,[3] started their hospital in a rented five-room house on what is now Biltmore Avenue near Hilliard Avenue, and expanded and relocated four times in the next seven years.[4] By 1940, there were five small general hospitals in the city, but medical professionals had begun to see the need for a major medical center for western North Carolina.[5] In 1947, Mission Hospital merged with Clarence Barker Memorial Hospital (at that time known as Biltmore Hospital), which was established by the All Soul's Parish in 1896 and constructed on land donated by George Vanderbilt[6] and became Memorial Mission Hospital.

Over time, Memorial Mission Hospital absorbed Victoria Hospital (formerly called Norburn Hospital, founded in 1928) and the Asheville Colored Hospital (founded in 1943).[7]

Memorial Mission Medical Center and St. Joseph's Hospital established an organizational partnership in 1996 and formally merged in 1998[8] as Mission-St. Joseph's Health System.[9]

St. Joseph's Hospital[edit]

St. Joseph's Hospital, circa 1920

St. Joseph's Hospital was established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1900 as a sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis.[8] It functioned out of a house on French Broad Avenue and was moved to Starnes Street before the sisters purchased what became its permanent location in 1909, at that time a large house belonging to William Wallace McDowell, a Confederate major who established a militia from Western North Carolina during the Civil War. The hospital expanded its services and facilities over the years and was declared a general hospital in 1939. After numerous expansions, a more modern facility was built in 1974.[9]

Memorial Mission Hospital[edit]

Memorial Mission Hospital, Circa 1950

After the consolidation of the smaller hospitals and the merger of Mission and Memorial Hospitals, Memorial Mission Hospital began operations with the hospitals on Reed Street and Woodfin Street in Asheville North Carolina. In 1951, the Biltmore Hospital facility was closed and construction began on a new hospital on Biltmore Avenue, across the street from St. Joseph's and was dedicated in March 1954. As technology advanced and medical procedures were becoming very complicated and expensive, Memorial Mission began looking towards St. Joseph's in the hopes of combining operations.[5]

Becoming Mission Heath[edit]

Following Memorial Mission's purchase of St. Joseph's from the Sisters of Mercy in 1998,[8] Memorial Mission acquired McDowell Hospital in Marion and Blue Ridge Community Hospital in Spruce Pine. Mission Health was the state's sixth-largest health system and the western North Carolina’s only not-for-profit, independent community hospital system governed and managed exclusively in western North Carolina.

Purchase by HCA[edit]

The $1.5 billion sale of Mission Health to the for-profit HCA Healthcare, announced in March 2018, was completed February 1, 2019.[10][11]

Current Operations[edit]

Today, Mission Hospital is a general medical and surgical facility and teaching hospital that serves the people of Asheville, Buncombe County, and much of Western North Carolina from three locations: Mission Hospital, Mission Hospital-St. Joseph's campus and Mission Children's Hospital with more than 50 specialties. In 2020, U.S. News and World Report ranked it seventh in North Carolina and gave it a high-performing ranking in nine adult procedures and conditions.[12]

In 2020, Mission Hospital serves 18 counties of western North Carolina with six hospitals, one post-acute care rehab hospital, 124 physician practices and five walk-in urgent care locations. It has been named one of America's 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by IBM Watson Health 14 times since 2000 and every year from 2013 through 2019.[13]

IBM Watson Health also named Mission Health one of the nation's Top 15 Health Systems six times since 2012, the only health system in North Carolina to achieve this recognition.[13]


  1. ^ Gaynor, Martin; Economist, Health Care; University, Carnegie Mellon. "Can A Community Hospital Stick To Its Mission When It Goes For-Profit?". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  2. ^ Stone, Jessi. "Hospital foundations find new mission". www.smokymountainnews.com. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  3. ^ "Our History: A Legacy of Caring". Mission Health. Retrieved 9 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Thomas Calder (20 March 2018). "Asheville Archives: Mission Hospital's early woes, 1885". Mountain Xpress. Retrieved 9 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b The History of Mission Hospital. Mission Health. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary: Asheville, NC". National Park Service. Retrieved 9 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "TB treatment spurred Asheville growth". Citizen Times. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 9 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b c Boyle, John (January 30, 2019). "Answer Man: In Mission-HCA deal what becomes of St. Joseph's?". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ a b "St. Joseph's Facility: A Continuation of Our History, A Blessing for Our Future". Mission Health. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 9 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Davis, Dillon (January 29, 2019). "HCA Healthcare CEO: Mission acquisition will add to company's 'already strong portfolio'". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Davis, Dillon (February 1, 2019). "Today's the day: Asheville's Mission Health, HCA Healthcare finalize $1.5B deal". Asheville Citizen-Times. Retrieved February 1, 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Mission Hospital-Asheville". U.S. News and World Report. January 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ a b "Mission Health 2019 Community Impact Report" (PDF). Mission Health. Retrieved 11 June 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]