Pikeville Medical Center celebrated its National Hospital of the Year distinction and its 85th anniversary with a ceremony Dec. 29.
“It has been a year of milestones for our great institution,” said Pikeville Medical Center President and Chief Executive Officer Walter E. May. “While we join our employees and our community in celebrating these milestones, we look ahead to the future. Our best days lie ahead of us and our journey to be a world-class hospital and healthcare provider has just begun.”
In late November, Pikeville Medical Center was named the National Hospital of the Year by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. PMC was chosen out of approximately 5,800 hospitals across the country. About 400 hospitals, including The Mayo Clinic, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, The Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University, met the qualifications to be considered for this award. None of the above-mentioned hospitals have ever earned the National Hospital of the Year honor.
“This award validates what I see every day,” May added. “We have positioned ourselves as one of the premiere hospitals in the nation, and I take great pride in saying that the very best healthcare in the nation can be found in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.”
In recognition of PMC’s honor, the City of Pikeville has declared January as Pikeville Medical Center Month. In addition to earning the National Hospital of the Year award, PMC was also named one of the nation’s “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare Magazine, and earned a prestigious Level 4 recognition by the Kentucky Center for Performance Excellence, which recognizes the state’s most productive organizations.
“Pikeville Medical Center has brought prestige to the city and the region,” Pikeville City Manager Donovan Blackburn said. “The hospital not only provides a valuable service to the region, but plays a large role in the corporate makeup of our region and contributes to the quality of life we all enjoy.”
On Christmas Day, Pikeville Medical Center marked its 85th anniversary. The hospital had humble beginnings, but the mission of providing “quality, regional health care in a Christian environment” has been the foundation of PMC’s growth from a small, rural hospital to a comprehensive medical center.
After seeing the plight of local citizens and their obstacles to obtaining quality health care firsthand as a minister, the Rev. Thomas B. (T.B.) Ashley, who was just appointed pastor of the Pikeville Methodist Church in 1920, spearheaded the efforts to build a hospital in Pikeville.
During the 1920s, mining companies had doctors on site, but receiving adequate hospital care required a 100-mile train ride to Huntington, W.Va. or Ashland. Rev. Ashley believed the citizens of eastern Kentucky deserved better.
Rev. Ashley and five Pikeville residents — Dr. R.S. Johnson, Dr. A.C. Bond, George Harnes, John W. Call and H.M. Hoskins — formed Pikeville General Hospital making an initial investment of $40,000. They brought in an additional $20,000 to buy a building on Peach Orchard Hill overlooking the city of Pikeville. The doors of the first hospital opened on December 25, 1924. That facility soon proved to be inadequate. A major expansion was undertaken and an annex opened in 1947.
In 1966, the hospital had experienced tremendous growth and the original building and annex were becoming outdated. PMC purchased the Miners Hospital from Appalachian Regional Healthcare at Harolds Branch (the current location of Pikeville Medical Center’s main campus).
For the next five years, the hospital operated both locations (at Peach Orchard Hill and Harolds Branch) while building a new eightstory patient tower adjacent to the Miner’s Building. In 1971, the hospital opened the W.E. Elliott Building.
The hospital’s next major expansion project came in 1996 when the hospital opened the Leonard Lawson Cancer Center. Four years later, the hospital opened an 11- story, 323,646 square-foot tower, the biggest in hospital history. In May 2003, the tower was named in honor of May.
In 2004, the hospital opened the MedFlight Building (now the Pain Management Center). Other buildings on site include the Diagnostic Center (2006) and Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Center (2007).