HAMLET HOSPITAL AND THE HAMLET HOSPITAL SCHOOL OF NURSING
The history of the Hamlet Hospital dates back to 1910 when the late Dr. William Daniel James and Mrs. Lillian Duer James, R.N., established a Hospital and School of Nursing at Laurinburg. N. C. Dr. James, a native of Laurinburg, attended the University of North Carolina and was graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He served his surgical residency at St. Mark's Hospital and the University of the State of New York, and it was there that he met Mrs. James, a native of New York State and a graduate of St. Mark's Hospital School of Nursing, Following their marriage in 1909, they returned to his native city of Laurinburg where they established James Sanatorium and opened the School of Nursing in 1910.
In 1915 Dr. and Mrs. James moved the location of their hospital to Hamlet, N. C. This change was made due to the fact that Hamlet being a railroad center made the services of the hospital available to a larger area. The hospital was first located in an eight-room house on Vance Street in Hamlet. The name was then officially changed to the Hamlet Hospital and the Hamlet Hospital School of Nursing.
During the Great Depression, the hospital operated on a financially sound basis under the guidance of Lillian Duer James, RN, Administrator and Dr. William Daniel James, Chief Surgeon. In 1931, Hamlet Hospital was reorganized under the Duke Foundation as a nonprofit hospital governed by a board of directors with the name Hamlet Hospital and Training School for Nurses. Money generated by the institution’s operations was returned to the hospital for improvements.
During the formative years of the hospital and until his death in 1947, Dr. James, in addition to medical practice and general surgery, did much research in cancer and became one of the well known pioneers in this field. Dr. James brought many honors to Hamlet Hospital with his pioneer work in the treatment of cancer and in having the first Snook X-Ray therapy machine in this section of the country. He served as secretary of the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners from 1938 to 1944. He also was vice-president of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States.
Dr. William Duer James, son of Dr. and Mrs. James, joined the staff in 1942. His term of service was interrupted by a three-year period in the service of his country, during which time Capt. William “Bill” Duer James served as Chief Orthopedic Surgeon of a 1,400-bed orthopedic hospital, the 168th General Hospital. Due to the illness of his father, he returned to the Hamlet Hospital in1946 to become resident physician. Dr. James died on January 15, 1947.
After completing specialized work at Memorial Center of Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York City, Dr. Mark McDonald Lindsey joined the staff of the Hamlet Hospital as Chief Surgeon and has also continued the work in the field of cancer begun by the late Dr. James.
Dr. G. W. Galloway joined the staff in 1960 and engaged in the practice of internal medicine and obstetrics.
Other doctors in Hamlet and the surrounding areas have contributed to the growth and development of the Hospital and School of Nursing and have added their efforts of service to the community.
Throughout the many years of growth of the Hospital and School of Nursing, Mrs. James has been very active in the work of both. She was the Administrator of the Hospital and was a member of the North Carolina Board of Nursing. Her leadership in the field of nursing and hospital management has been an example for many other institutions and individuals.
In 1355 and 1953, two new additions to the hospital were completed. One of these consists of rooms for patients; the other contains the Out Patient Department. In 1963 the new Obstetrical Department and Recovery Room were completed. Walter Hooks Architects Associates from Charlotte later designed a building which grew to be a 140-bed general non-profit hospital. In 1965, a new patient area on second floor was completed. All of these areas are furnished with the latest modern devices and equipment.
Parallel to the development of the Hospital, The Hamlet Hospital School of Nursing, one of the first 3-year diploma schools of nursing in the Sandhills area of North Carolina, for many years served alone an area from Charlotte to Wilmington and from Raleigh to Columbia, S.C. During these early years, sick patients were brought in by Seaboard Railway trains.
In October 1964, The James family donated land for a Educational Building to more adequately house the School of Nursing. This building, completed for occupancy in January 1966, contains five classrooms, nursing and science laboratories, administrative and faculty offices, large assembly room, large basement recreation loom, student library and a doctors Library and conference room. It was designed and equipped for efficiency in management of the nursing education program.
Following the death of Lillian Duer James in 1970, the hospital was willed to the board of directors of the Hamlet Hospital and School of Nursing.
In 1977, the voters of Richmond County passed a $1.2 million bond issue resulting in changing Hamlet Hospital from a private nonprofit hospital to a not-for-profit health care facility owned by Richmond County with a leased back agreement for operation by the board of directors.
In March of 1980 the hospital’s board of directors employed SunHealth, Inc. of Charlotte, a not-for-profit hospital management firm, for the day-to-day management of Hamlet Hospital.
A new Hamlet Hospital replacement unit was dedicated on Sunday, November 23, 1980. Moving day for staff and patients was Friday, March 19, 1981. All facilities were upgraded and all patient-related services were moved to the new 64-bed addition.
The Hamlet Hospital School of Nursing program was phased out in 1981 and the Lillian Duer James Nursing Building was given to Richmond County by the hospital for the expansion of the Richmond Technical College (now Richmond Community College) associate degree nursing program.
Health Management Associates, Inc. (HMA) of Naples, Florida acquired Hamlet Hospital from the county on a 10-year lease agreement in 1987 and subsequently finalized purchasing the facility in 1995.
HMA began immediate improving the facility and its equipment. In the mid-1990’s, HMA realized the need to replace the aging physical Hamlet Hospital facility with a new state of the art medical center.
On December 10, 1997, ground was broken for the new Sandhills Regional Medical Center. The final step in the official opening of the Sandhills Regional Medical Center took place Sunday, February 20, 2000.