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The cost of hospital services has increased 33% over the last six years, federal statistics show, outpacing price hikes of insurance premiums and prescription drugs. With higher costs comes more pressure to perform, which makes Business North Carolina’s annual quality rankings of the state’s adult, acute-care hospitals with at least 50 beds ever more relevant.

Last year’s top two performers remained at the top of the charts. Duke University Hospital is part of the Durham-based health system that includes one of the nation’s largest biomedical research hubs. Asheville’s Mission Hospital is the flagship of the nonprofit community-health system serving the state’s westernmost counties. The methodology is largely based on information provided by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, including patient-satisfaction surveys, infection rates, and readmission and death rates for common conditions and procedures. We also consider criteria from insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield, U.S. News & World Report and The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that grades hospitals based on patient-safety records.

(tie) Duke University Hospital

Durham  |  Beds: 957  |  2016 rank: 1

In December, the Durham City Council approved a site plan for a proposed 13-story addition that would add more than 500,000 square feet and 330 beds at Duke’s flagship campus. Though formal plans haven’t been released, the expansion would allow Duke to maintain operations while its 40-year-old hospital is renovated. Collectively, the hospital and its affiliates, including Duke University and the School of Medicine, are the state’s third-largest private employer. The medical center, which logged more than 1.1 million outpatient visits last year, employs nearly 10,000 people.

(tie) Mission Hospital

Asheville  |  Beds: 763  |  2016 rank: 2

Becker’s Hospital Review last year listed Mission Health CEO Ron Paulus among the nation’s top physician leaders based on leadership and clinical expertise. The report recognizes 110 health-system presidents and CEOs, each with a medical degree. (John McConnell, chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, was the only other N.C. executive on the list.) Construction is underway on a $400 million patient tower (rendering, right) that will replace the former St. Joseph and Memorial hospitals. Mission is the flagship of the state’s sixth-largest hospital system, which includes six medical centers plus various outpatient and surgery centers in western N.C.

CarolinaEast Medical Center

New Bern  |  Beds: 350  |  2016 rank: 5

In collaboration with UNC Health Care, the hospital broke ground in January on a $35 million, 80,000-square-foot cancer center, with the State Employees’ Credit Union contributing $3.5 million. The SECU Comprehensive Cancer Center will bring oncology services to a region where cancer incidence rates are consistently higher than state and national averages. A new $15 million diagnostic center adjacent to the cancer center will house imaging services.

Cone Health

Greensboro  |  Beds: 821  |  2016 rank: 3

A trio of projects is underway at the Greensboro health system, reflecting investments totaling more than $183 million. The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital is replacing four neurosurgery operating rooms, a $10.3 million renovation that is expected to be complete this fall. And later this year, Cone will begin relocating its women’s hospital, which provides maternity and neonatal care, to the main campus 2 miles east and renovating operating rooms at Wesley Long Hospital.

Includes The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital (Greensboro, 536 beds), Wesley Long (Greensboro, 175 beds) and Annie Penn Hospital (Reidsville, 110 beds)

(tie) CaroMont Regional Medical Center

Gastonia  |  Beds: 435  |  2016 rank: 19

Gaston County’s only acute-care hospital soared in this year’s rankings. A $24 million overhaul of the hospital’s emergency department (right) was completed last fall, adding 30,000 square feet and allowing the ER to accommodate more than 100,000 visits a year. (The old one was built for about 60,000.) The new Albert G. Myers Jr. Pediatric Care Center provides a separate waiting area for children and their parents.

(tie) FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital

Pinehurst  |  Beds: 486  |  2016 rank: 8

The health system that serves 15 counties in central North Carolina in December acquired its fifth hospital, the 64-bed Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet. Flagship Moore Regional is undergoing an extensive renovation of its orthopedic unit, with construction expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

Includes FirstHealth Moore Regional (387 beds) and FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital (Rockingham, 99 beds)

7 UNC REX Healthcare

Raleigh  |  Beds: 660  |  2016 rank: 4

This month, UNC REX opens its long-awaited North Carolina Heart & Vascular Hospital, an eight-story, 114-bed tower (right) that will consolidate services now spread across its existing west Raleigh campus. Also, the not-for-profit health care system in January announced a joint venture with Wake Radiology, the Triangle’s largest provider of imaging services with a network of more than 50 radiologists.

8 High Point  Regional Health

High Point  |  Beds: 351  |  2016 rank: 13

The hospital last year began a $40.7 million renovation of its heart center that will include new cardiac-catheterization labs and technology upgrades. A new outpatient surgery unit and operating rooms are also planned, with completion expected in March 2019. High Point Regional, which merged into UNC Health Care in 2013, logged more than 250,000 outpatient visits last year.

New Hanover Regional Medical Center

Wilmington  |  Beds: 769  |  2016 rank: 5

Deeming its existing orthopedic facility too costly to repair, the medical center is planning a new orthopedic and spine hospital. The $87 million project will be built in three stories over an existing surgical center at its main campus. Doctors at New Hanover Regional’s orthopedic hospital perform about 9,000 procedures a year. The hospital hasn’t said what it plans to do with the existing ortho campus on Wrightsville Avenue, which is about 5 miles east of the main hospital.

10 Carolinas Healthcare System Pineville

Pineville  |  Beds: 235  |  2016 rank: 13

The suburban offshoot of Charlotte’s Carolinas Medical Center opened in 1987, with an 86,000-square-foot rehabilitation and acute-care hospital added in 2013. Parent Carolinas HealthCare System was dealt a blow earlier this year when Rock Hill, S.C.-based Piedmont Medical Center won an appeal allowing it — instead of CHS — to build the first hospital in fast-growing Fort Mill, S.C., 9 miles south of Pineville.

11  Carolinas Medical Center

Charlotte  |  Beds: 1,080  |  2016 Rank: 9

Includes Carolinas Medical Center (907 beds) and Carolinas Medical Center Mercy (Charlotte, 173 beds)

12 (tie) Cape Fear Valley Medical Center

Fayetteville  |  Beds: 666  |  2016 Rank: 12

12 (tie) Duke Regional Hospital

Durham  |  Beds: 369  |  2016 Rank: 10

12 (tie) Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center

Charlotte  |  Beds: 622  |  2016 Rank: 13

15 WakeMed  Raleigh Campus

Raleigh  |  Beds: 704  |  2016 Rank: 7

16 (tie) Carolinas Healthcare System Northeast

Concord  |  Beds: 457  |  2016 Rank: 13

16 (tie) UNC Hospitals

Chapel Hill |  Beds: 840  |  2016 Rank: 10

18 Frye Regional Medical Center

Hickory  |  Beds: 355  |  2016 Rank: 20

 19 Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center

Winston-Salem  |  Beds: 971  |  2016 Rank: 18

Includes Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center (Winston-Salem, 921 beds) and Kernersville Medical Center (Kernersville, 50 beds)

20 (tie) Carolinas Healthcare System Cleveland

Shelby  |  Beds: 241  |  2016 Rank: NA

20 (tie) Pardee Hospital

Hendersonville  |  Beds: 222  |  2016 Rank: NA

22 Carolinas Healthcare SystemUniversity

Charlotte  |  Beds: 100 |  2016 Rank: NA

23 (tie) Catawba Valley Medical Center

Hickory  |  Beds: 258  |  2016 Rank: NA

23 (tie) Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center

Huntersville  |  Beds: 75  |  2016 Rank: NA

25 (tie) Duke Raleigh Hospital

Raleigh  |  Beds: 186  |  2016 Rank: 23

25 (tie) Johnston Health

Smithfield  |  Beds: 199  |  2016 Rank: NA

25 (tie) Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

Winston-Salem  |  Beds: 885  |  2016 Rank: 21

Click here to see a PDF of the section

Click here to see a PDF of patient picks

Click here to see a PDF of Blue Cross and Blue Shield cutting-edge hospitals

Click here to see a PDF of U.S. News & World Report top-performing Tar Heel hospitals


Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin
Cathy Martin is the managing editor at Business North Carolina magazine. She can be reached at

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