St. Elizabeth Healthcare 150th Anniversary
Honoring Our Past
As St. Elizabeth Healthcare begins to celebrate its 150th anniversary, 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,” is clearly being fulfilled. The healthcare organization, founded with one small hospital in 1861, now has six major facilities stretching across five Northern Kentucky counties and is the area’s largest employer, with more than 7,300 associates.
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. With all the elements in place, the first St. Elizabeth Hospital was able to open its doors in January, 1861 on Seventh Street in Covington.
Since then, St. Elizabeth’s growth has remained as steady and firm-footed as its mission. For decades it grew in both quality and scope of services from its well-known former “North Unit” location on East 20th Street in Covington.
Click here to learn more about our oldest-living St. Elizabeth Healthcare nursing graduate, Luella Jacobs Bradley.
Growth Rooted in Commitment to Mission
From that familiar building – which so many locals call their birthplace – St. Elizabeth has extended its reach across Northern Kentucky by incorporating St. Elizabeth Grant in 1993, opening St. Elizabeth Edgewood in 1978, and merging with the former St. Luke Hospitals in 2008.
As historians such as Dr. Paul Tenkotte, a Northern Kentucky University history professor who has been researching the hospital’s history, have looked back at the organization’s phenomenal growth over the years, the snapshots of St. Elizabeth’s history tell a story of an organization whose compassion and strength has nurtured the growth and health of the whole Northern Kentucky region.
Dr. Tenkotte recalls the 1937 flood, when the Ohio River rose to nearly 30 feet above flood stage and the Licking River encircled the hospital.
“Despite their best efforts, the water flooded the hospital’s basements and put the boilers out. What do you do? You need to keep the hospital up and running.”
“Their first concern was the patients, so they put up sandbags and brought in a steam shovel whose engine powered the hospital. They improvised and just carried on,” says Tenkotte.
That dogged determination to deliver the very best care to all who need it, despite the challenges, has always been St. Elizabeth’s hallmark, regardless of the scale of the disaster or challenge.
“The main thing we want to underscore about St. Elizabeth is the dedication of its people,” Tenkotte said. “When you think of the tens of thousands of patients over the past 150 years, it becomes an awesome and amazing legacy.”
Inspiring Our Future
For 150 years, St. Elizabeth Healthcare has been the heart and soul of healthcare in Northern Kentucky. Over that time, we have grown into the topnotch, multi-faceted organization that all of Greater Cincinnati views today as the gold standard in medicine. Below are some of those key accomplishments.
- Provided $100 million in community benefit and uncompensated care in 2009.
- 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 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Elizabeth Edgewood in 2010. The completed first phase of major renovation of the OB and NICU space provide higher levels of neonatal care with 19 newly-built private NICU beds and post-partum rooms that were enlarged and upgraded to provide a higher-level of neonatal care in a modern environment.
- St. Elizabeth Physicians was formed with the merger of Summit Medical Group and PatientFirst in 2010. St. Elizabeth Physicians has grown to 159 physicians and mid-level providers and nearly 1,000 total employees, and will continue
- Our Centers of Excellence include:
~ Cardiovascular (Edgewood)
~ Diabetes (Covington)
~ Weight Management (Florence)
~ Total Joint (Edgewood)
~ Women’s Wellness (Covington, Edgewood and Ft. Thomas)
- 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.
- Key Awards and Honors
~ America’s 50 Best Hospitals (St. Elizabeth Edgewood) – Healthgrades, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
~ 100 Top Hospital (St. Elizabeth Covington, Edgewood and Grant) – Thomson Reuters, 1998, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
~ Region’s first MagnetTM Hospital (St. Elizabeth Covington, Edgewood and Grant) – Designated by American Nurses Credentialing Center, 2006; Re-designated 2010
~ 1 of 3 hospitals in the country to be named America’s 50 Best by Healthgrades, a 100 Top Hospital by Thomson Reuters and to be designated a Magnet™ hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
~ Celebrated 30th anniversary for the Hospice program