For more than 150 years, St. Elizabeth has been the heart and soul of healthcare in Northern Kentucky, proudly fulfilling the wish of the Sisters of the Poor: “So that the new hospital may not only be an ornament for Covington, but a blessing for centuries." The healthcare organization, founded with one small hospital in 1861, now operates six facilities throughout Northern Kentucky.
It also has vast resources to serve the Greater Cincinnati area, including almost 1,200 licensed beds, a physician organization which includes more than 60 primary care and specialty office locations, more than 1,200 physicians with admitting privileges, more than 7,300 associates including St. Elizabeth Physicians, and three freestanding imaging centers.
Honoring Our Past
It All Began with One Woman’s Vision
Everything started with one remarkable woman by the name of Henrietta Cleveland. Despite the incredible personal losses of her husband and two children, Ms. Cleveland managed to found the hospital in 1861.
Concerned with the plight of Covington’s poor, Ms. Cleveland petitioned the Diocese of Covington’s first bishop, the Most Rev. George Carrell, about the need for a hospital in Northern Kentucky to care for the less fortunate. After gaining the bishop’s approval, she enlisted the help of wealthy Cincinnati social activist Sarah Worthington King Peter to raise more than $2,000 to build the hospital.
The civic-minded pair then recruited the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor to staff the hospital and open a home for foundlings – infants who had been abandoned. The nuns worked with Mrs. Cleveland, and the ladies of the first St. Elizabeth Support Guild, to raise the funds needed to purchase a building on Seventh Street, which soon became the hospital which they named after St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The first St. Elizabeth Hospital opened its doors on January 23, 1861. An additional 78 patients were admitted in that first year.
Growth Rooted in Commitment to Mission
The demand for services from that fledgling organization grew swiftly, and over the next 53 years, the sisters would have to move twice to acquire ever larger facilities to treat those in need. In fact, by 1914 St. Elizabeth was opening a new facility on 21st Street that many locally knew for years as the St. Elizabeth North Unit.
Then, in 1948, the citizens of Campbell County began to realize that they, too, had a dire need for a hospital in their growing area. That’s when voters there passed a bond issue to build what we now know as St. Elizabeth Fort Thomas. Within five years, the new Grand Avenue facility opened with 128 beds. Less than 10 years later, two more floors were added, followed by intensive and coronary care units in the early 1970s.
As Northern Kentucky’s population continued to soar and spread out, St. Elizabeth responded by opening its Edgewood facility with 182 beds in 1978.
Meanwhile, burgeoning growth in Boone County made plain the need for a state-of-the-art medical facility in that area. In 1979, the hospital we now call St. Elizabeth Florence opened in Boone County’s largest city to serve the soaring population of the area.
As these facilities grew and added space and specialty services, the need for healthcare in Northern Kentucky’s more rural areas became increasingly clear. Again St. Elizabeth responded to the need. In 1980, a Pendleton County hospital was purchased that is now known as St. Elizabeth Falmouth, Northern Kentucky’s only inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center. Then, 10 years later, we began managing the facility now known as St. Elizabeth Grant, in Williamstown.
As we crossed into the new millennium, our pace of growth continued to keep us on the cutting edge of medical technology and service. Over the past decade, St. Elizabeth Healthcare has continued to expand our offerings through the opening of a flurry of new services, including the Union Diagnostics Center, a $6.4 million hospice center and pediatric urgent care center, to name just a few.
Inspiring Our Future
In late 2008, two medical powerhouses – St. Elizabeth Medical Center and the St. Luke Hospitals - joined forces to become one healthcare system. Today, our thriving, united organization is a regional healthcare leader. And we are poised to become a national leader, as well.
Key Accomplishments of St. Elizabeth Healthcare
- Provided more than $83 million toward Community Benefits Programs and Uncompensated Care in 2010.
- Opened The Regional Diabetes Center at our Covington campus in 2010. St. Elizabeth has more endocrinologists in one center than almost anywhere else in the eastern U.S. that specialize not only in diabetes management, but a range of endocrine disorders. This center is complemented by imaging, diagnostic and treatment services that diabetes often need, such as Wound Care.
- Developed a new Special Care Nursery at St. Elizabeth Edgewood in 2010.
- Formed St. Elizabeth Physicians with the merger of Summit Medical Group and PatientFirst in 2010. St. Elizabeth Physicians has grown to close to 250 physicians, 50 mid-level providers, and more than 1,100 employees, and will continue to grow.
- Invested in innovation, such as the da Vinci Surgical Robotic Systems – with two in use at Edgewood and one in use at Ft. Thomas and the Aquilion ONE 320-slice CT scanner, one of the most powerful X-ray imaging devices in the world at Edgewood.