Celebrations in Hillsborough

Last week the hospital at UNC Health Care Hillsborough Campus opened its doors to the public for the first time, and the responses revealed great excitement among Hillsborough residents.

Celebrations in Hillsborough click to enlarge On Saturday, staff who will be working at the hospital at UNC Health Care Hillsborough Campus greeted the residents of Hillsborough and surrounding areas who arrived to check out the new facility.

by Zach Read - zachary.read@unchealth.unc.edu

Last Saturday afternoon, Sara and John Tolar left their Lake Orange home, north of Hillsborough, to attend the public open house at UNC Health Care’s new Hillsborough hospital. After the tour, the retired couple was shocked by what they saw.

“I never thought Hillsborough would have a hospital like this,” said Sara, who grew up in the area.

John, who was also raised in Hillsborough, agreed.

“It’s hard to imagine something like this in Hillsborough,” said John, whose work in textiles took the couple all over the southeast until they returned to Hillsborough sixteen years ago. “I never thought I’d see this. I really didn’t. You’d expect a clinic maybe like the one Duke built near town, but nothing like this hospital. It’s state of the art, and I don’t think people who drive by Waterstone Drive understand how much of a hospital it is.”

The Tolars weren’t alone in visiting the completed hospital last week. They were among a thousand people who attended one or both Hillsborough hospital events – the public open house on Saturday and the ribbon-cutting ceremony two days earlier, at which Hillsborough and Orange County community and business leaders gathered with UNC Health Care officials and employees to celebrate the new facility.

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John and Sara Tolar (right) grew up near Hillsborough and retired to Lake Orange sixteen years ago. They never thought Hillsborough would have a hospital like this.

Among others in attendance at the Saturday public open house were husband and wife Benjamin Sallard and Candace Marles. Sallard and Marles moved to southwest Durham twenty years ago from Philadelphia; five years later they moved to Hillsborough. They chose to live in the Hillsborough residential development Beckett’s Ridge because of its convenient location between I-85 and I-40, near where the Hillsborough Campus now stands, and also so that their two boys would be in the Hillsborough public school system.

“This is a great place to raise a family,” said Sallard, who works as a project manager in e-learning and in clinical project management, sometimes from home and other times at his Raleigh office. “This hospital will only make it better and make it that much more of a full community. It’s wonderful to see the area develop this way, and we’re thrilled to have the hospital nearby in case we ever need to utilize it.”

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Hillsborough residents Candace Marles and Benjamin Sallard welcome UNC Health Care's new hospital to their community.

Marles, an e-learning specialist at SAS, recently traveled to Canada to help care for her mother, who was spending time in and out of the hospital. While there she gained insight into the hospital features that help patients and their families during their health challenges.

“I’m very familiar with what makes a room really usable for a patient and their family, and I’m very impressed by what I saw here today,” she said after completing the tour. “It’s clear that a lot of thought went into designing the patient rooms – for example, making sure that the bathrooms are safe and including panels on the cupboards so that providers can write their names and keep track of the care.”

In addition to the good impression the facility had on them, the couple also complimented the staff they met during the tour.

“What’s really nice is that all the staff members we spoke with shared their enthusiasm about being in this community and hospital,” Sallard said. “They shared some of the new pilot ideas that are being experimented here. That was really quite nice to see their level of excitement in terms of the forethought that was put into the hospital as an incubator for new ideas.”  

In the coming years, Sallard and Marles envision the hospital being useful for Sallard’s parents, who retired and moved to Hillsborough nearly a decade ago to be near them and their grandchildren. They also can see future in which the hospital brings growth to the community.

“I think it’s a very positive change for the community,” Sallard continued. “The growth that we’ve been seeing in this area, and specifically around Hillsborough, is something that everyone has been thinking about in a very concerned way. Growth is important for a community, but controlled growth and managed growth is something that this hospital is really a manifestation of, and I think that’s very important to see.”

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James Watts Jr. (right), merchandising manager for Weaver Street Market, was one of several hundred people who toured the new hospital. He is excited about the contributions the hospital will make to local businesses and the community.

James Watts Jr., merchandising manager for Weaver Street Market, has been living in Hillsborough for many years and working at the Weaver Street Market offices located just west of downtown, and he shared similar excitement about the hospital.

“From the Weaver Street perspective,” he said after completing the tour, “when we first heard about the hospital, it was another contribution good for business and good for anyone who lives in Hillsborough. It's all about vibrant downtowns and walkable communities for us, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the town does do to tie the hospital to downtown."

For Watts, the UNC Health Care Hillsborough Campus is a natural fit for the community, and an addition that will help shape Hillsborough well into the future. 

“Hillsborough is vibrant and growing,” he said. “Now with the hospital here and great health-care services close at hand, it’s going to make it an even more appealing place. It would not surprise me if the population of Hillsborough doubled in the next fifteen years. A large reason for that growth will be the services that are available here, and a huge part of those services will be this hospital. Having a hospital here is a huge benefit. It’s great, and the space is impressive."


"This is the most sophisticated example of our enduring commitment of our missions to serve the people of North Carolina with outstanding clinical care, research that we bring to the office and the bedside, and to train learners of the next generation." --Brian Goldstein, Executive Vice President and COO, UNC Hospitals

"With this hospital, we have the capability of placing our patients in the right facility for the care they need and it gives our patients unique ease-of-access, if they receive care here, so that they can park for free, walk in the front door, get service quickly, and be in and out." --Gary Park, President, UNC Hospitals

“Work on this project involved hundreds of hours of diligent work over many years by a significant number and variety of professionals at our health care system. This was truly a collaborative process. Everyone involved should feel proud of the part they played in the development of this state-of-the-art facility. --Ray LaFrenaye, Vice President, Facilities, Planning, and Development, UNC Hospitals


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