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‘Yes, we can!’ And, yes, a foundation did


John Buie will tell you he was at first skeptical of joining a group of physicians and business folks with the idea 25 years ago of developing a financial support organization for Cape Fear Valley Health.

“I was initially overwhelmed,” he says.
But then Buie gave it a second thought as he perused the names of Dr. Harold Godwin, Leonard Hedgepeth, Dr. E.C. Garber, Dr. Weldon Jordan, Dr. Howard Loughlin, John Pate, Andy Fox, Tony Cimaglia, Lucy Wofford and John Carlisle, who was administrator for then-Cape Fear Valley Hospital.
“As I looked at the proposed founding team members, I found that they offered exceptional skill sets in the critical areas of healthcare and business. I thought about the benefits to our community, and I looked at the team, and my thoughts shifted to ‘Yes, we can do this!’”
And on Nov. 6, 1995, what would become known today as the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation would become a reality.
“Since 1995, the foundation has grown substantially,” Buie said “and become an integral part of the healthcare network for the Cape Fear Region.”

‘Best healthcare …

Tony Cimaglia remembers those origins, too.
“My involvement with the CFV Health System began in 1989 as a trustee board member, where I was chairman of the planning committee,” he said. “During this time, the CFV Health System was going through a tremendous amount of growth in order to provide necessary services for our community. Our motto was to always provide the best healthcare available, while remaining self-sustaining and operating without tax-payer subsidies. After rotating off the trustee board, I was approached by John Carlisle, the former administrator of CFV Health System and Dr. Harold Godwin, a former trustee board member, about forming a group to start a community healthcare foundation. Our board was formed in 1995, with the purpose of aiding the healthcare system in providing healthcare needs for the community.”
Since then, the foundation has raised more than $20 million in support of Cape Fear Valley Health and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Its largest financial undertaking is now underway to raise $6 million, according to Sabrina Brooks, the foundation’s executive director, for the $30 million Center for Graduate Medical Education and Research. The building will house the medical residency program, including a neuroscience department.
“In the early years, our major goal was to have all the Friends of the Hospital groups join the foundation,” Cimaglia says. “This was more of a job than we anticipated, but all had joined by 1999/2000. In 1999, the foundation recruited its first full board and staff and has had steady growth since that time. In early 2000, the foundation joined the Friends groups on their projects, but began focusing on ongoing healthcare needs in the community that were not currently being provided.”
Among those needs was a diabetes center.
“The capital campaign began meeting in October, 2004, and a campaign goal of $1.75 million was set based on consultant recommendations,” Cimaglia says. “In August of 2006, Charlie Holt joined the foundation board and agreed to chair the diabetes campaign, which resulted in a very successful and exciting venture for all of us. The newly formed Regional Diabetes and Endocrine Center was located in the Medical Arts Building and was dedicated on Nov. 16, 2007. It has successfully provided much-needed health care for the diabetic patients in our community.”
Cimaglia says the foundation provided $2,193,783 for healthcare programs and projects in 2019, and has raised $20,208 million for healthcare since 1995.
“It is impressive that the foundation is working on our largest project yet, which will have a major impact on the healthcare of our community,” Cimaglia said about the capital campaign currently underway for the Center for Graduate Medical Education and Research building. “The Center for Medical Education and Research will be built on Melrose Road, next to the Cancer Center parking lot” that once was the nurses residence dormitory.
The annual economic impact, Cimaglia said, is estimated at $25.2 million and will create up to 450 healthcare jobs at Cape Fear Valley Health. Construction, Cimaglia said, has been delayed because of COVID-19, but is expected to begin by the end of this year.
“We graciously appreciate all those who have pledged support for this project, with the building itself being a showplace for our hospital and community,” Cimaglia said. “The past 25 years have flown by, and my serving on the foundation board has been very rewarding. I sincerely thank all the past and present foundation board members, foundation staff, hospital employees and the community for their dedicated support of our healthcare system. It is something we can all be very proud of currently while looking forward to many rewarding years in the future.”
Cimaglia’s words are not lost on John Buie.
“That the foundation is alive and well after 25 years is a testament to those persons with the vision to first bring the idea to life,” Buie says. “The foundation’s success is the result of a lot of hard work by so many different people from virtually every walk of life. The mission and purpose as first proposed has continued to serve our region well.”


Dr. Harold Godwin, Leonard Hedgepeth, Dr. E.C. Garber, Dr. Weldon Jordan, Dr. Howard Loughlin, John Pate, Andy Fox, Tony Cimaglia, Lucy Wofford and John Carlisle were those 25 years ago with a dream for providing the best of health for those in this community, and in this silver anniversary year, the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation continues because of another generation of leaders to include Emily Schaefer, Ryan Aul, Lynda Clark, Mary Flagg Haugh, Mary Talley, Charlene Wyatt, David Allred, Chris Dixon, Jesse H. Byrd, Lucy H. Jones, Jessica Kouba, Davis Puryear, Murtis Worth, Dr. Marion Gillis-Olion, Dr. Rakesh Gupta, Peggy Holt, Dr. Karen Jones, Chris Neal, Paige Ross and Lonnie Player Jr.
“Twenty five years ago several influential and forward-thinking individuals in our community came together and laid the foundation and groundwork for the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation,” says Emily Schaefer, the foundation president. “What an incredible thing they did for our community and health system.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at bkirby@CityViewnc.com, billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961