Baptist Health to Celebrate 90 Years of Serving KY

Baptist Health
Baptist Health

Birthday parties will break out across Kentucky on Sept. 28 when Baptist Health celebrates its 90th anniversary of caring for families throughout the commonwealth.

The events will be Sunday, Sept. 28, 2-4 p.m., at each of the seven Baptist Health hospitals: Louisville, La Grange, Lexington, Richmond, Corbin, Paducah and Madisonville. Each location will hold drawings to give away an iPad and a Fitbit® to lucky winners, and each will have a photo booth to capture family photos.

The public is invited to join the Baptist Health family to enjoy cake, share stories and reminisce. As part of the anniversary celebration, anyone born in a Baptist hospital or otherwise wanting to share their story about Baptist Health is encouraged to do so online by visiting and clicking where it says “Share your Baptist story.”

The anniversary events commemorate the opening of the original Kentucky Baptist Hospital in Louisville in 1924. “A lot has changed since then,” said Baptist Health CEO Stephen Hanson. “But our mission remains the same: to help our communities stay healthier. With your support, we look forward to serving our communities for another 90 years.”

As the state’s largest health system, Baptist Health performs one in five open heart surgeries, treats one in four new cancer patients, and helps welcome one in four babies in Kentucky. It also serves thousands of patients outside its hospital walls each year – through physician practices, home care visits, urgent care centers and other outpatient services. The Baptist Health system includes more than 2,100 licensed hospital beds and more than 15,000 employees.

The first seeds for Baptist Health were planted in the 1890s, when Baptist leaders in Kentucky began discussing plans to build a modern hospital as an extension of Christian ministry. Talk
turned to action in 1917, when the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky appointed the Rev. Dr. M.P. Hunt to raise funds to start construction.

On Nov. 15, 1924, the 150-bed Kentucky Baptist Hospital opened on the old Hutchings estate at Barret Avenue and DeBarr Street, just south of Broadway and to the east of downtown Louisville. The hospital was built at a cost of approximately $600,000 – half of which was borrowed. In a newspaper account of the time, Dr. J. Rice Cowan, president of the Kentucky Medical Society, congratulated the Baptists on their work, saying: “This building will stand as a memorial of the great Baptist organization, but its purpose and mission will commemorate the teaching of the Man of Nazareth in a monument more lasting than bronze or stone.”

Two days later the first four patients were admitted to the new hospital. These were the days when life expectancy averaged 57 years, and well before federal privacy rules, and The Louisville Times felt no constraints in publishing those patients’ names and the reasons they were admitted (one for observation and rest; two for X-rays and one for an operation on his foot.) The first baby was born on Nov. 26 – a girl, the daughter of the Rev. J.C. Wells and his wife, Willie.

In 1918 Dr. Hunt explained why a Baptist hospital was needed, writing, “First – without a hospital of our own, the desired social impact of the Baptist message is impossible. Preaching without practice at this point in the light of our modern day civilization glaringly exhibits our weakness as touching a practical application of our gospel and shames our boasted orthodoxy.”

The system began to form after the opening in 1953 of the 117-bed Western Baptist Hospital in Paducah and in 1954 of the 173-bed Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington. In 1968, the three hospitals joined formally when they formed Baptist Hospitals Inc.

The hospital now known as Baptist Health Corbin opened in 1986 as a replacement facility for the former Southeastern Kentucky Baptist Hospital.

Originally known as Tri-County Community Hospital, Baptist Health La Grange joined the Baptist family in 1992. Trover Health System in Madisonville joined the Baptist family in September 2012 and is now called Baptist Health Madisonville.

Madison County’s Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center, founded in 1892, officially joined the Baptist system in 2012 and was renamed Baptist Health Richmond.

For many years the Kentucky Baptist Hospital School of Nursing operated alongside the original Highlands hospital, before closing its doors in 1983. The original hospital closed in 1989 and consolidated with Baptist Hospital East (now Baptist Health Louisville), which opened in 1975 on Kresge Way at Breckenridge Lane.

Baptist Health Timeline
1924 – Kentucky Baptist Hospital, the first Baptist hospital in Kentucky, opens in Louisville
1953 – Western Baptist Hospital opens in Paducah (now known as Baptist Health Paducah)
1954 – Central Baptist Hospital opens in Lexington (now Baptist Health Lexington)
1968 – Three Baptist hospitals organize into a single corporation, Baptist Hospitals Inc.
1975 – Baptist Hospital East opens in Louisville (now Baptist Health Louisville)
1982 – Baptist Hospitals Inc. assumes management of Southeastern Kentucky Baptist in Corbin
1985 – Southeastern Kentucky Baptist Hospital in Corbin contributes assets to Baptist Hospitals Inc.
1989 – Original hospital, then known as Baptist Highlands, closes and merges with Baptist East
1991 – A new hospital in Corbin opens, Baptist Regional, and merges into Baptist Healthcare System
1992 – Baptist purchases Tri-County Community Hospital, now Baptist Health La Grange
1997 – Hardin Memorial Hospital signs management agreement with Baptist Healthcare System
2004 – Oak Tree Hospital opens at Baptist Regional in Corbin
2006 – Oak Tree Hospital opens at Baptist Northeast (now Baptist Health La Grange)
2009 – First Baptist Express Care clinic opens in Lexington (Hamburg)
2009 – Baptist Eastpoint outpatient center opens in eastern Jefferson County
2010 – Pattie A. Clay Regional Medical Center signs management agreement with Baptist Healthcare System
2012 – Russell County Hospital enters an agreement to be managed by Central Baptist
2012 – Baptist Healthcare System launches a statewide Cancer Network
2012 – Baptist Healthcare System rebrands to become Baptist Health
2012 – Pattie A. Clay become the sixth owned hospital, renamed Baptist Health Richmond
2012 – Trover Health becomes the seventh owned hospital, renamed Baptist Health Madisonville
2013 – Oak Tree Hospital in Corbin becomes ContinueCARE Hospital
2013 – Baptist Health moves corporate offices into new building near its Eastpoint outpatient center in Louisville
2014 – Baptist Health celebrates 90 years of serving people in Kentucky and surrounding states

About Baptist Health
Kentucky’s Baptist Health (formerly Baptist Healthcare System), headquartered in Louisville, owns seven acute-care hospitals with more than 2,100 licensed beds in Corbin, La Grange, Lexington, Louisville, Madisonville, Paducah and Richmond. Baptist Health manages Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown and Russell County Hospital in Russell Springs.

For 90 years, Baptist Health has stood for high-quality care, patient satisfaction and nursing excellence, owning two of the four adult Magnet-designated hospitals in Kentucky. Baptist has grown its physician network to more than 450 employed physicians and more than 1,600 independent physicians. In addition to hospitals, Baptist Health includes urgent care and retail-based clinics, home health care, outpatient diagnostic and surgery centers, occupational medicine and physical therapy clinics, fitness centers and a health maintenance organization (HMO), Bluegrass Family Health.

Leave a Reply