Today, the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center is a 37-bed facility that is one of the few in the nation that is American Burn Association verified for adult and pediatric care. The center had more than 1200 acute admissions in 2012, and consistently operated at capacity. The Burn Center’s state-of-the-art facilities in UNC Hospitals and experienced staff provide patients with the best in clinical treatment and aftercare.

The opening of the Burn Center was the culmination of one man’s mission. John Stackhouse owned an electrical contracting company in Goldsboro, and he saw first-hand the devastation that burns can create when several of his workers suffered severe electrical burns in the 1960s. At the time, the state of North Carolina had no burn center and there were fewer than a dozen in the entire United States.

“Back then, a seriously burned patient never returned to work or even to productivity for that matter,” Stackhouse said. “Just to return them to the task of living was a continuous struggle.”

Stackhouse set out to improve the quality and accessibility of burn care in North Carolina. He pledged $40,000 of his own money and the board of the Rural Electric Association voted to match it. Stackhouse lobbied other organizations, and many groups that had seen the effects of burns – such as firefighter and electrical organizations – joined the effort. In 1973, the Goldsboro Jaycees sold jars of jelly to help raise money. The statewide organization adopted the idea, and the first Jaycee Jelly Week was held in January 1974. Jaycee and Jaycette chapters across the state raised nearly $150,000 by selling jelly for $1 a jar. Stackhouse bought the first jar for $10,000.

“With his persistence, commitment, passion and irrepressibility, Mr. Stackhouse was the driving force behind the effort,” said Dr. Christopher Fordham, dean of the UNC School of Medicine from 1971 to 1979. “We were treating burns here at the time, but there was a compelling need for a specialized center.”

The groundbreaking for the Burn Center was January 15, 1977, and Stackhouse’s vision came to fruition when the center officially opened on February 23, 1981. The continued support of citizens across North Carolina means that the Burn Center can remain a beacon of hope for burn survivors.

“I’ve traveled all over with the American Burn Association, and I’m proud to say I believe the Burn Center is the best in the country,” Stackhouse said.