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Our History

Durham County General Hospital opened its doors on October 3, 1976.

A merging of Lincoln Hospital and Watts Hospital, the mission of the new 487-bed, seven-story hospital was to provide “health services of a uniformly high quality as economically feasible to citizens of Durham County.”

The new hospital offered services of surgery and medical nursing units, intensive care units and operating rooms, labor and delivery, nurseries, pediatrics, an emergency room, psychiatry, orthopedics, neurosurgery, and laboratory and radiology testing.

Expanding in the 1980s

The 1980s saw a rise in new technology, and Durham County General Hospital geared up to bring these advances to its residents.

The George Washington Watts Memorial Building opened, along with new emergency management services facilities, a $4.35-million Lincoln Community Health Center, Westgate campus, renovations of units 6-1 and 6-2, a cardiac catheterization laboratory and open heart surgery unit, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and new labor and delivery suites.

Durham Regional Hospital

The 1990s found Durham County General Hospital at a crossroads. What once was a small community had exploded into a large regional area. The hospital responded by expanding its focus to also serve Orange, Person, Chatham, and Granville counties.

The expanded service area resulted in changing the name to Durham Regional Hospital -- a name that reflected the true patient base.

The hospital continued to shift its base to providing more outpatient services through opening the new Outpatient Surgery Unit in 1990 and partnering with Davis Ambulatory Surgery Center in 1994.

Durham Regional Hospital embarked on an aggressive $40-million renovation of all outpatient areas, emergency services, operating rooms, lobby, and a new entrance.

Partnering with Duke

Despite the growth, Durham Regional Hospital began to have financial difficulties. Reimbursement had changed drastically, cutting into the bottom line of the hospital. The hospital conducted searches for a hospital partner to help ease the financial troubles and find a way to deliver services more efficiently in the community.

In 1998, an agreement with Duke University Health System was signed and the two officially began a 20-year partnership. This agreement paired a strong community hospital with a leading academic medical center.

Guided by the hospital’s founding principles and as part of the Duke University Health System, Durham Regional Hospital’s talented and compassionate health care team strives to transform the health and wellbeing of the communities we serve.

Duke Regional Hospital

On July 1, 2013 Durham Regional became Duke Regional Hospital. This name change is a result of extensive market research in the communities the hospital serves.  Feedback from residents who participated in this research showed their preference for a Duke-branded healthcare facility.

Together, Durham Regional administration and the DCHC Board of Trustees proposed the Duke Regional Hospital name to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, who voted unanimously to approve in January.

As part of the hospitals rebranding, a new tag line—“Serving our community since 1976” —is part of the Duke Regional logo. It reflects the hospital’s history and tradition of caring among staff, physicians and volunteers; it also recalls the merging in 1976 of predecessor hospitals, Lincoln and Watts.

See a timeline of events in Durham Regional Hospital’s past.