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our roots

Dogwood Health Trust was born from a long legacy of caring ­ – one that combines the resilience and “can-do” spirit of Western North Carolina with the sincere desire to help out one’s neighbors. Our story began with seeds planted in 1885, when the women of the Flower Mission, an auxiliary of the North Carolina branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, created the first Mission Hospital. In an era where quality medical care was reserved for those with an ability to pay for it directly, Anna Woodfin, Fanny Patton, Rose Chapman and Lily Carmichael, recognized as the Flower Mission’s most prominent figures, established a place of healing for anyone who was sick or in need of a home. Their effort became known as “The Little Flower Mission,” and it transformed healthcare in Western North Carolina. Mission Hospital’s first facility, a five-room cottage, opened in Asheville in October 1885 with funding that these four women raised by selling flowers in downtown Asheville.

Over the next century, Mission Hospital expanded, relocated and consolidated with several other hospitals to become the Mission Health System, a comprehensive, high-quality health system that included one flagship hospital and five regional hospitals serving the 18 counties of Western North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary. The caring spirit of the Little Flower Mission remained at the forefront throughout Mission Health System’s growth, even as market forces drove a widening wedge between the cost of providing healthcare and the available sources of payment in a region with more health challenges than most. 

In 2019, Mission Health System was sold, creating Dogwood Health Trust as a new, independent entity to carry on the commitment and compassion of the Little Flower Mission. Today, Dogwood’s team carries that spirit into its work to address the upstream factors that influence the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities: housing, education, economic opportunity and health & wellness. 

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