1946 | The Beginning: Dr. Clement Monroe
Before there was Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, before FirstHealth, and before Moore Regional Hospital, there was one doctor: Dr. Clement R. Monroe. He would not only play an instrumental role in the creation of what was then Moore County Hospital (MCH), but he was also the driving force behind the creation of Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, which first started within the confines of the hospital before growing into what it is today. In honor of the rapidly approaching 75th anniversary of Pinehurst Surgical Clinic, we wanted to take a journey through history and start where it all began; with one doctor and one vision for healthcare in Moore County.
While he would later become who most would consider the pioneer of medicine in the area, Dr. Monroe’s roots in the Carolinas go back further than when MCH was founded. Dr. Monroe grew up just outside of West End, North Carolina, and from what his relatives said, he always had an interest in medicine. Most of this comes as secondhand accounts, but some attributed his undeterred passion, and dedication to the medical field and his patients, to his struggles with his health as a child and his experiences growing up. He survived typhoid fever in his earlier years, and had a multitude of run-ins with rakes.
When Dr. Monroe left the area it was to pursue an education in medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1929, after Dr. Monroe completed his medical training he was invited by North Carolina Congressman, and good friend, Bob Page to leave his Baltimore home behind and come back to the area to play an instrumental role in what would become MCH. Dr. Monroe was intrigued and intimidated by the prospect of interviewing with some of the area’s most influential families. Although there are no records of what was said during that meeting, whatever Dr. Monroe said resonated with the group, and he was hired by the board as both the only surgeon and the hospital administrator.
That same year, MCH officially opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day with the help of the Duke Endowment, which provided one-third of the $225,000 cost of building the original MCH. Inside were 33 beds, a staff of 27 people, and a vision spearheaded by Dr. Monroe. This vision included healthcare for the masses in rural areas. During war times, surgeries even tended to be free and people would even barter and trade for medical services.
At one point, the hospital even bought a cow to be able to feed its patients, and farmers would bring in crops when they were admitted; all ideas spearheaded by Dr. Monroe. The Women’s Auxiliary Group, of which Pinehurst Surgical Clinic is honored to be spearheading the revitalization, would also assist in bringing in food from the farms to the hospital, and were vital supporters of the hospital during the war.
A hospital expansion followed shortly, and the bed count was increased to 80, which meant Dr. Monroe’s responsibilities grew. It was his job to add surgeons to continue to support the growing hospital. One, in particular, Dr. Michael Pishko, shared his dream to start a private practice, although the team was kept busy with the multidisciplinary work they performed at the hospital. In the ’30s and ’40s, surgeons were not specialized like they are now. One moment they were delivering a baby and the next they were stabilizing a broken leg.
Things would change in 1946. After being relieved of his administration duties, Dr. Monroe, in coordination with Dr. Pishko and Dr. William Hollister, presented a plan for what would become Pinehurst Surgical Clinic. The plan utilized the basement office as the clinic, and the hospital operating rooms for surgeries. It truly was a win-win, as the hospital could keep their surgeons on grounds and the surgeons could open the private practice they had envisioned. As you may imagine, the plan passed with a resounding yes and Pinehurst Surgical Clinic was formed.
Pinehurst Surgical Clinic was founded on the concept of teamwork, and a true dedication to delivering quality patient care. For nearly 75 years, these principles have shaped every aspect of our business — from customer service, to outpatient care, to medical training, and everything in between. Dr. Monroe provided an exceptional institution with an exceptional beginning.
This is the first in a series of articles detailing the formation, heritage, and history of Pinehurst Surgical Clinic.