St. Elizabeth History

For more than 160 years, St. Elizabeth has been the heart and soul of healthcare in this region, 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.”

Founded with one small hospital in 1861, St. Elizabeth is now a regional healthcare leader, operating six facilities throughout Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.


It All Began with One Woman’s Vision

Everything began by the vision of one remarkable woman by the name of Henrietta Cleveland. Despite the incredible personal loss she endured with the death 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 a wealthy Cincinnati social activist, Sarah Worthington King Peter, to raise more than $2,000 to help 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 Ms. Cleveland, and the ladies of the first St. Elizabeth Support Guild, to raise the funds needed to purchase a building on 7th 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 and 78 patients were admitted in its 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 larger facilities to treat those in need. In fact, by 1914 St. Elizabeth opened its new facility on 21st Street in Covington that many knew 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 residents passed a bond issue to build what we now know as St. Elizabeth Ft. 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 expand to other areas within the region, St. Elizabeth responded by opening its Edgewood facility with 182 beds in 1978. Today, the Edgewood facility has grown to 502 beds and serves as the flagship location for St. Elizabeth Healthcare.


Meanwhile, burgeoning growth in Boone County made clear the need for a state-of-the-art medical facility in that area as well. In 1979, the hospital we now call St. Elizabeth Florence opened in Boone County’s largest city in order to serve the increasing population of the area.


In late 2008, St. Elizabeth Medical Center and the St. Luke Hospitals joined to form what we now know as St. Elizabeth Healthcare. Today, our thriving healthcare system is not only a regional healthcare leader, but it poised to become a national leader, as well.


St. Elizabeth Physicians

Something remarkable happened in Northern Kentucky in 2010. Motivated by a shared goal to provide the people of this region with the highest quality care and very best patient experience, two successful area physician groups, Summit Medical Group and PatientFirst, pooled resources and expertise to join forces to form St. Elizabeth Physicians.

Today, this multi-specialty medical group organization has grown to nearly 170 practices throughout Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana — led by more than 600 providers and 2,000 associates overall. Through a decade of building, learning, sacrificing and striving to continually improve, St. Elizabeth Physicians has become one of the nation’s premier healthcare delivery organization, recognized with the American Medical Group Association’s Acclaim Award in 2020.


St. Elizabeth Cancer Care

Our region has a cancer problem and we have an answer. In October 2020, we opened the doors to our 250,000 square-foot, six-story, multi-disciplinary facility which we designed to meet all of the needs of patients on a regional and national level. Today, we can treat nearly 500 patients per day offering cancer detection, diagnosis, and care all under one roof.

St. Elizabeth Dearborn

On November 1, 2020, we welcomed St. Elizabeth Dearborn into our family, ushering in a new era for St. Elizabeth Healthcare and further expanding our Mission of comprehensive and compassionate care into the Southeastern Indiana region. In our new Dearborn facility and accompanying physicians’ offices, St. Elizabeth gained 700 new associates and physicians who brought with them invaluable healthcare experience, strong patient relationships, and devotion to their community.


In 2015, St. Elizabeth opened the Heart & Vascular Institute on our Edgewood campus, setting a goal to decrease heart-related deaths in Northern Kentucky by 25 percent by 2025. Supported by a generous $7 million donation from local businessman William J. Yung III, St. Elizabeth furthered its commitment to cardiac care in 2021, opening a new 67,000-square-foot, multi-specialty, comprehensive facility named the Florence Wormald Heart & Vascular Institute at St. Elizabeth.

Inspiring Our Future

For 160 years, St. Elizabeth has been honored and proud to grow along with generations of family, friends, and neighbors in the Tri-State region. We hope to continue to fulfill our ongoing vision of leading our community to become one of the healthiest communities in America.