Baptist Health kicks off centennial celebration, 100 Days of Service

January 17, 2024

Baptist Health officially kicked off its 2024 centennial celebration with an official announcement from CEO Gerard Colman on Jan. 17.

“Baptist has been a pioneer in patient care, notching many ‘firsts,’” Colman said. “This includes being among the first in the state to offer special patient units for intensive care, coronary care and cancer care. Most notable, we were one of the first private, general hospitals in the nation to open a psychiatric unit.”

Colman addressed senior leaders from across the state’s largest health system, noting the year will be highlighted by giving back to our communities with 100 Days of Service, including focusing on recognized community health needs, screenings, removing barriers to healthcare access and career exploration opportunities.

Each hospital will focus on a health-related topic each month, with a corresponding activity. Community projects for the year are:

January – maternal health – diaper and baby supply drive.

February – heart health – screenings.

March – colon cancer – screenings and risk assessment.

April – barriers to health/food insecurity -- food drive.

May – stroke – awareness events.

June – healthcare career exploration – education and experience.

July – neighborhood cleanup efforts.

August – orthopedics – screenings (falls prevention and improving balance.)

September – behavioral health – awareness events.

October – preventive care -- flu shots.

November – lung cancer – screenings.

December – blood drives.

Here is the full text of Mr. Colman’s remarks:

“Today, we are officially kicking off Baptist Health’s 100th anniversary celebration.

“The first seeds for Baptist Health were planted in the 1890s, when Baptist leaders in Kentucky began talking about building a modern hospital.

“Talk turned to action in 1917, when the General Association of Baptists appointed the Rev. Dr. M.P. Hunt to raise funds.

“Baptist church congregations across the commonwealth pledged their support – and their dollars – to the opening of a hospital in the state’s most populous city, Louisville, with a vision of having ‘branches’ in the future.

“From that grassroots beginning has grown the state’s largest health system, now known as Baptist Health, with nine hospitals in two states.

“Having ‘more faith than money’ was a theme for the building of most Baptist Health’s hospitals, paired with a strong desire to provide high quality healthcare for their families, friends and neighbors.

“The first hospital, Kentucky Baptist, was built on what used to be a fruit orchard on South Barret Avenue near downtown Louisville.

“It was six stories high, with about 130 beds. One floor was for maternity; another for surgery, X-ray and orthopedics – services we still provide today.

“The doors opened and the first patients were admitted on Nov. 17, 1924 featuring bed sheets sewn by ‘ladies organizations’ and individuals.

“The hospital went through years when it was flourishing and at capacity, and through lean years such as the Great Depression -- when it rented rooms and the hospital superintendent saved the day by taking out a personal loan.

“Baptist has been a pioneer in patient care, notching many ‘firsts,’ including being among the first in the state to offer special patient units for intensive care, coronary care, and cancer care.

“We were early adopters of recovery rooms, outpatient clinics and neurosurgery.

“Kentucky Baptist was also the site of Louisville’s first open heart surgery.

“Most notable – we were one of the first private, general hospitals in the nation to open a psychiatric unit.

“Four years ago this month, we announced a $1 billion plan to create a next-generation healthcare system, expanding the capabilities at our busiest hospitals and growing to fit the needs of our communities.

“We have made good on that promise.

“Since the announcement – in addition to surviving a pandemic -- Baptist Health has opened new facilities across the system, including the first hybrid ER & Urgent Cares in Indiana and Kentucky, expanded behavioral health, new outpatient centers and hired more primary care providers.

“This year, there will be more ribbon cuttings as we open the first phase of the Baptist Health Hamburg project, a healthplex (including a new comprehensive cancer center) at Baptist Health Hardin and a central Pharmacy Center in La Grange.

“During this centennial year, we will show our gratitude for the support of our communities through monthly service efforts in each market – we’re calling that 100 Days of Service.

“We kick off next week by delivering baby supplies and diapers donated by the Baptist Health team to local organizations for distribution to moms and babies. This is very fitting as one in four babies in Kentucky is born at a Baptist Health hospital.

“When the doors of Kentucky Baptist were opened, it’s unlikely that the proud founders envisioned the Baptist Health of today. But we know that they shared the same mission: to provide, coordinate and improve the health of our communities.

“Our leaders made that dream come true in 1924. And thanks to all of you for keeping the dream alive today – and for the next 100 years.”