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News Room: Luella Jacobs Bradley, the oldest-living St. Elizabeth Healthcare Nursing Graduate

This story and photo appeared on and was written by Reagan Coomer:

In 1863, St. Elizabeth Hospital nurses took in a dying slave whose master wouldn’t let her pray for comfort.

The nurses took the woman, Henrietta, to their Seventh Street Covington hospital to die in peace. Henrietta was baptized and her master, a Baptist minister, never knew.

Just two years after the inception of what would be St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the hospital’s nurses did everything they could to care for anyone, no matter their position, race or creed, said Northern Kentucky University History Professor Brian Hackett, who led the research into St. Elizabeth’s 150-year history.

“It’s an incredible legacy,” said Hackett, who explained the women’s action would have been illegal in 1863 when slaves were considered property.

“These women took a risk. To me, it’s a testament of how important St. Elizabeth was and has become.”

St. Elizabeth honored that legacy and its 150 years at an event held at St. Elizabeth Edgewood Wednesday, Jan. 26. A group of employees, politicians, community leaders and more packed the Visitor’s Lobby where Diocese of Covington Bishop Roger Foys blessed and re-dedicated the hospital.

While many things have changed, evolved and improved over the last 150 years, the best is yet to come for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, said President John S. Dubis.

“Our future is going to be brighter than ever before,” Dubis said. “And it will be brighter because of you. The assets of St. Elizabeth are the people who work at the organization. Period.”

St. Elizbeth’s new locations in Florence and Fort Thomas will be blessed sometime this year in celebration of the 150th anniversary.

“One of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been here is that St. Elizabeth is the glue that holds the community together,” Dubis said.

After the re-dedication, the group moved upstairs to view a St. Elizabeth history exhibit complete with photos and artifacts from the hospital’s earliest year.

Luella Jacobs BradleyA special guest at the event was 96-year-old Luella Jacobs Bradley, the oldest-living St. Elizabeth Nursing School graduate. Bradley’s nursing cap and a photo of her in her nursing uniform were included in the exhibit.

“I enjoyed every moment I spent here nursing,” Bradley said. “It runs in the family – my grandmother and aunt were nurses.”

When asked how she feels to be a part of history, Bradley responded: “Like I said, I’ve always wanted to be queen for a day.”


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