Through medical and technological advancements, health care at Spartanburg General Hospital changed dramatically from the mid-1960s to the early-1990s. This transformation was orchestrated under the leadership of former hospital president Charlie Boone.
From Spartanburg’s first open-heart surgery to the creation of dedicated surgery wing and radiation oncology, Charlie Boone’s leadership transformed the face of health care in Spartanburg County during his 30-year tenure.
To recognize Mr. Boone’s dedication to the healthcare system, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System placed an honorary Charles C. Boone Drive sign on a road that intersects the Spartanburg Medical Center campus from Pearl Street to North Church Street.
“I want to thank the employees with whom I worked. You have made this place great, I didn’t make it great,” Charlie Boone said. “I supplied a modicum of leadership and tried to do my best to do one thing, and that’s to treat each of you the way I want to be treated. You are the ones who make it great. And let me say to you, keep it great. Keep it great.”
During the ceremony, President of Spartanburg Medical Center Phil Feisal thanked Spartanburg City Council for approving the honorary renaming of Aimee Street to Charles C. Boone Drive.
Mr. Boone oversaw the construction of new buildings, including the Montgomery Tower and Spartanburg Medical Center parking garage. But Mr. Boone led more than just the campus’s growth. He led efforts to improve access to care for the community, starting in 1966 when Spartanburg General began accepting Medicare. Under his leadership, Spartanburg General performed its first open heart surgery in 1981.
Mr. Boone’s career in Spartanburg began in 1966, after he left Duke University Medical Center to lead Spartanburg General Hospital — now Spartanburg Medical Center. He served as president of Spartanburg General Hospital — now Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System — until his retirement in 1995.
“During his time as president, Charlie Boone positioned the healthcare system as a leader in quality and innovative health care,” Feisal said. “His hard work extended outside of the walls of the hospital. He connected with the community to make sure that needs were met.”
During this time, Mr. Boone had many innovative ideas in growing the healthcare system that he helped bring to fruition. Soon after he started, he saw a nursing shortage and visited local colleges to see if they could help. While visiting the University of South Carolina (USC), the president said it would be beneficial if a USC branch was formed in Spartanburg. Mr. Boone proposed the idea to a group and Dr. G.B. Hodge was instrumental in helping create USC—Upstate. The first classes of the college were held in the basement of Spartanburg General Hospital.
Mr. Boone also helped associates with childcare by opening the Child Development Center in 1974.
Cancer and cardiac services also grew under his leadership. Mr. Boone supported the creation of the Spartanburg Regional Foundation, which would raise funds to support advancements of the hospital.
"Charlie Boone did something rare in the complicated political world of health care. He established and consistently maintained a culture of respect and cooperation with city and county councils, our state delegation, media, and the man on the street,” said Bill James, JR., MD, vice chairman of the Spartanburg Regional Board of Trustees. “Mr. Boone carefully crafted a visible base of mutual and durable trust. He was an incredibly effective communicator who really had the 'it' factor.”
Even after his retirement in 1995, Mr. Boone continued to faithfully and selflessly serve the Spartanburg community and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. Within the community, he served on the Spartanburg Chamber of Commerce, Spartanburg County Health Planning Commission and the Spartanburg Rotary Club.
Timeline accomplishments under Charlie Boone’s leadership:
- 1966: Spartanburg General approved for Medicare
- 1968: Spartanburg General started using computers
- 1970: Creation of medical education (first hospital in S.C. approved by the American Board of Family Practice for a residency)
- 1972: Opening of a cardiac catheterization lab
- 1972: Opening of a $3.5 million ambulatory care, education and administration building
- 1973: County ambulance service created
- 1980: Opening of the Charles C. Boone Surgery Wing
- 1981: First open heart surgery performed
- 1982: Opening of a new psychiatry unit, the Emory B. Brock Radiation Oncology Treatment Center and a 17-bed ICU
- 1983: Spartanburg General assumes management of EMS; Hospital receives grant from National Cancer Institute to become part of the Community Clinical Oncology Program
- 1986: Spartanburg General Hospital changes its name to Spartanburg Regional Medical Center
- 1991: Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Foundation incorporates
- 1994: $33 million Rose and Walter Montgomery Patient Tower dedicated; Spartanburg Regional Medical Center purchased Doctors Memorial Hospital and renamed it as Spartanburg Hospital for Restorative Care