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Sun shines on opening of Health Sciences Center

Officials celebrate opening of the Health Sciences Center with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Tuesday. Officials celebrate opening of the Health Sciences Center with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting on Tuesday.

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Rain was the theme 20 months ago when officials gathered for the groundbreaking of the three-story health sciences building on the Pardee Hospital campus and it was the theme again Tuesday morning — for a while.

Rain fell for the first time in three months on Tuesday but as if on cue the sun came out just as the ceremonial ribbon-cutting finished up at 11:20 a.m.
Hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the opening of the Health Sciences Center heard local officials praise the unprecedented five-party agreement that resulted in the building.
“We want to welcome everyone to this beautiful facility in the city of Hendersonville,” said Mayor Barbara Volk. “That’s one of the things that we’re most pleased with is that it’s here in the city of Hendersonville.”
When Wingate University began looking for bigger quarters, city officials scrambled to make sure the college didn’t leave the city. In the meantime, County Manager Steve Wyatt, then-Wingate president Jerry McGee, Pardee CEO Jay Kirby and BRCC president Molly Parkhill began working on an ambitious and unprecedented effort to cooperate on a major building that would serve them all.
“It’s amazing when we pick up the paper today and see the divisiveness around the country and sometimes in our own community what can happen when you check your egos at the door,” said Pardee CEO Jay Kirby. “The fact that our county, the city, Wingate, Blue Ridge, Pardee all came together, put their egos at the door and did what was best for our community, for our patients and for our teachers and what you are standing in today is a reflection of that — nothing more, nothing less.”
The Comprehensive Cancer Center, using Pardee oncologists and those from UNC Health Care, will “bring advanced healing close to home,” Kirby added. “We treat over 500 cancer patients each year. Eighty-five to 90 percent of all cancers on this earth can be treated in this building.”
Wingate President Rhett Brown recalled a meeting early in the process when he visited Hendersonville and asked Wyatt, “Tell me again what we’re doing up here?”
“And he said, ‘Walk with me.’ So we walked outside and we were standing in beautiful downtown Hendersonville and he put his arm around me and he said, ‘Imagine, if you will, that a young person born in Henderson County could not leave Henderson County and become a pharmacist, physician assistant or nurse anesthetist in our county.’ And it was at that point that I got the vision.”
Brown thanked his predecessor, McGee, and Wyatt for their dedication to the project.
“It was their shared vision and their sheer tenacity that brought us to this day,” he said. “Wingate University in Henderson County will eternally be grateful.”