The 40th anniversary celebration of Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation is set for 1 p.m. on Friday at its Whitesburg location.
“Forty years is quite an accomplishment,” said L.M. “Mike” Caudill, who succeeded his mother, Lois A. Baker, as chief executive officer of MCHC.
Mrs. Baker died at the age of 79 last June after a long illness. She became CEO of the not-for-profit MCHC in 1971, at which time the company had been in operation a short time. Caudill said the corporation started out as a part of the Leslie-Knott-Letcher-Perry Community Action Council (LKLP) in the old Huff Drugstore building in Hazard.
“The person over it at that time failed to get the company going and was ousted and she (Lois A. Baker) was hired,” said Caudill.
Caudill said with the help of U.S. Rep. Carl D. Perkins, the company remained open. A $1 million grant was obtained in 1971 and in 1972 MCHC’s first clinic was opened in Wooten on the Perry/Leslie County line. It was made up of two trailers left over from a government program. The trailers, which housed the exam rooms and office building, were secured with a common roof. The space between the trailers served as the waiting area. The clinic was later transferred to the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing in Hyden in Leslie County.
The McRoberts Clinic opened in 1974 and closed several years ago when it became no longer feasible to keep it open, Caudill said.
The Leatherwood/ Blackey Clinic was established in 1976, making it the oldest MCHC clinic still in existence. Caudill said it has gone through renovations and additions to keep it modern.
The Whitesburg Medical Clinic opened later in 1976 in the old Daniel Boone Hotel building on Main Street, where it remained until moving to its current facility located at Medical Plaza Lane in West Whitesburg in 1996.
The Jackson Clinic in Breathitt County opened in 1978 and later closed when a hospital opened there. The Owsley County Clinic opened in 1983 and the Buckhorn Clinic opened in 1985. The newest clinic, located in Harlan, opened in 2004.
MCHC employs about 250 people at its five clinics and Whitesburg-based central office and provides services to more than 30,000 patients each year with more than 150,000 visits each year throughout the different facilities.
“Our changes have paralleled with the changes in medicine,” said Caudill. “It has become more sophisticated as new medicines, equipment, and treatment advance.”
Caudill said the corporation started out with a couple of providers and very basic equipment.
“Now we have 30 providers and the latest equipment — digital mammography, CTs (computed tomography), 4-D ultrasounds and a host of other equipment,” said Caudill.
Caudill said the goal of the corporation, which was his mother’s vision, has stayed the same throughout its 40 years in operation.
“Her vision was to be able to provide affordable, quality health care to the citizens and visitors of this area,” he said. “She wanted to do this with local people. She worked hard to make sure that every qualified person from the mountains had the opportunity to become a doctor.”
Caudill said medical care at the MCHC clinics is as good as anywhere else in Kentucky.
Dignitaries are scheduled to speak at the MCHC celebration beginning at 1 p.m. on June 3. Free food will be served. Patients will receive free T-shirts on Friday while supplies last. A health fair will be held in conjunction with the anniversary event.