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Published on July 19, 2021

Board dedicates UNC Health Southeastern bed tower as Rust Tower

Outside rust towerUNC Health Southeastern’s Board of Trustees dedicated the health system’s seven-story patient bed tower as Rust Tower during an unveiling ceremony held Monday, July 19 at the medical center’s tear drop main entrance.

Board Chair Wayland Lennon unveiled a sign with the new name in front of an audience of the Rust family, board members, and health system leaders during a ceremony that was streamed live on Facebook.

“The Rust family has an extreme sense of voluntarism and commitment to Robeson County and our health system,” said Lennon. “Their guidance and leadership have assisted UNC Health Southeastern through triumphs and challenges, while never unwavering from their true mission to provide the citizens of our service area the best that healthcare can provide.”

UNC Health Southeastern President/CEO Joann Anderson remembered former board member James “Randy” Rust and his influence during her early days as CEO in her remarks.

“Having worked with the Rust family for 14 years, I have appreciated their commitment to doing the right thing to benefit the most people,” said Anderson. “They have collectively worked to ensure healthcare is always available to our area. The naming of the tower is representative of their desire to have healthcare available for all.”

To conclude the ceremony, Lisa and Kenneth Rust responded on behalf of the family.

“It is indeed a great privilege to be here today and with the greatest of humility we thank you for this honor,” said Lisa Rust. “As much as you honor us today, we recognize that you could put any number of names on the outside of this building and it would still be a shell without the men and women inside the building who practice ubuntu (I am, because we are) love every single day. If our name is associated with that kind of love, then you indeed have given us a great honor, and I thank you.”

Kenneth Rust reflected on the significance of his service as well as that of his father to the health system board, “For the last decade or two, many, rural hospitals have been struggling, many are downsizing and even more are closing their doors. Yet in the face of that trend, this institution is thriving. Local access to quality healthcare, especially in any rural county setting, like Robeson County, is a fragile privilege.  That is one of the first truths that generations of board members quickly learn as they begin service. ”

Throughout the last 35 years, three members of the Rust family have served on either the health system or Foundation board of trustees.

James “Randy” Rust served on the health system’s Board of Trustees for 27 years beginning in 1986 - 2013. During his tenure, Mr. Rust served as Board Chair in 1991-1992, and then again in 1999-2003. He was given Trustee Emeritus status in 2014 to honor his commitment and dedication to Southeastern and the patients served throughout the southeast region. Randy Rust also served on the Foundation Board of Trustees from 1990-1998. During his service to the health system board, he saw extensive growth in outpatient clinics, rehabilitation centers and fitness centers, emergency and oncology services, as well as the addition of the Patient Bed Tower.  He also supported and assisted with the Take it to the Top! Capital Campaign, which raised more than $4.6 million for projects that upgraded emergency care and cancer treatment and provided private rooms for virtually all hospitalized patients. Rust demonstrated unwavering support of and faith in the proposed open-heart surgery center in cooperation with Duke Health despite the many setbacks during the five-year approval process, during which time he traveled to many cities across North Carolina to speak eloquently on behalf of the citizens of the community he represented. Randy and his wife, Mary Anne, served on several Foundation Gala committees. He was recognized state-wide for his health care leadership and advocacy efforts by receiving the NCHA Trustee Service Award for 2002 and election to the NCHA Board of Trustees in 2003 for a three-year term.

Kenneth Rust has served on the Board of Trustees for UNC Health Southeastern since 2015, including serving as chair from 2017-2020. During his tenure as chair, he led numerous projects including: the partnership exploration initiative which began in August 2018 and concluded with an announcement on December 3, 2020, that the Board of Trustees had signed a Management Services Agreement with UNC Health; early and uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic through to the availability of a vaccine in December 2020; transition of the medical center’s NICU to classification as a Level II unit; upgraded the medical center’s operating rooms to a state-of-the-art surgical suite; Hurricane Florence and all of the devastation that followed; and the first graduating class for Medical Residents through Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Mr. Rust continues to serve on the Board of Trustees with dedication and commitment to the organization’s mission to provide quality regional health care in a safe, compassionate, and efficient environment.

Lisa Rust began her tenure on the Foundation Board of Trustees in 2000, serving as chair from 2009-2011. During her time as chair she oversaw many fundraising efforts for UNC Health Southeastern affiliates including: Southeastern Hospice and Southeastern Hospice House, Gibson Cancer Center, WoodHaven Nursing, Alzheimer’s and Rehabilitation Center, WoodHaven Short-Term Rehabilitation, Emergency Services, Behavioral Health and the Academic Endowment Fund. Her unwavering support and expertise were instrumental in the success of Southeastern Heart Center Campaign that raised $1.6 million, where she served as co-vice chair.  Lisa and Kenneth served on a number of Foundation Gala committees, and were co-chairs in 2002. Lisa Rust continues to serve on the board to raise awareness and funds for UNC Health Southeastern Foundation.