In case you missed it, UK HealthCare celebrated its 60th anniversary back in April. That’s quite the milestone for the No. 1 ranked hospital in the state of Kentucky that employs ~9,000 Kentuckians.
But before we celebrate its 60 years of service to the Lexington area, let’s imagine central Kentucky prior to UK HealthCare.
The early years
1940s | Kentucky is in major need of more medical facilities + physicians.
- 1 out of 3 Kentuckians was deemed medically unfit for military service during WWII.
- In 1949, Kentucky saw 5,000+ unattended births.
- Kentucky ranked close to last in physician-to-patient ratio.
- It was estimated that the state needed an additional 1,400 doctors.
1950s | Reform + coverage start to take shape in central and eastern Kentucky
“In the 1950s, Louisville + western Kentucky had much better coverage than central and eastern Kentucky,” said Mark Newman, UK’s Executive Vice President for Health Affairs. Back then, for [healthcare] coverage, you were thinking about going all the way to Louisville or even out of state.”
1953 | UK professors + the Legislative Research Commission recommend that an academic medical center be built on UK’s campus. It was estimated that by 1965, Kentucky would be 2,000 physicians below the national average unless another medical school was built in the state.
1955 | Former Gov. Albert B. Chandler promises to build + allocate funds for a new medical center.
1956 | The UK Board of Trustees agrees to establish the UK Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing for a total cost of $27.8 million.
1957 | The ground was officially broken for the new medical facility.
1960 | The UK College of Medicine was established.
1962 | UK HealthCare admitted its first patient to UK Chandler Hospital — a 10-year-old girl from Pikeville named Margaret Schoolcraft. She was treated by a pediatrician who would carve out her own legacy at UK HealthCare, Jacqueline Noonan, M.D.
Even though Margaret was the hospital’s first official patient, she wasn’t the first to be treated. The need for healthcare in the region was so great, that patients were being admitted as sections of the hospital were being completed — before the official opening in April.
Over the next 40 years, University Hospital would evolve into what we now know as UK HealthCare + eventually operate under three different hospitals — UK Chandler, UK Good Samaritan, and UK Children’s Hospital.
The University of Kentucky has also grown to house six different health care colleges — Medicine, Nursing, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Sciences, and Public Health.
The original idea behind the formation of UK HealthCare was to provide high-quality health care services to Kentuckians in the central + eastern parts of the state. That focus has shifted to include every Kentuckian, regardless of their geographic region.
In 2008, the Rural Physician Leadership Program was established to get more physicians into Kentucky’s rural areas.
The UK College of Medicine has recently expanded its footprint — building campuses + programs in Bowling Green, Northern Kentucky, and Morehead. The Bowling Green campus celebrated its first-ever graduating class in 2022, and the Northern Kentucky campus will celebrate its first graduating class in 2023.
UK HealthCare is now an official member of the Eastern Kentucky Healthcare Coalition — working to develop a network of connected providers in the eastern part of our state. Additionally, it has also set up a series of Affiliate Networks throughout the state. Patients at these affiliated hospitals have easier access to more advanced care if they need it, but stay close to home when possible.
And most recently, the university has made plans to continue the advancement of medicine and education in Kentucky by approving the construction of a 380,000-sqft. campus building that will be used for classrooms, simulation suites, and more.