Good Samaritan Hospital

Protestant Infirmary in 1888 with Horse-Drawn Ambulance in Front. (From the Lexington Herald, Lexington, Kentucky, 5 June 1938)

Dr. J. M. Skillman, Dr. David Barrow, Dr. F. H. Clark, Dr. B. L. Coleman, Dr. J. C. Carrick, Dr. John W. Scott, Dr. G. D. Kelly, and Dr. W. O. Bullock. (From the Lexington Herald, Lexington, Kentucky, 5 June 1938)


(From the Postcard Collection, Special Collections, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky)

In 1888, a group of women from the Guild of Christ Church, Episcopal, established the Protestant Infirmary in Lexington, Kentucky. Shortly thereafter, the Protestant Infirmary became the Good Samaritan Hospital. The original plant of the Infirmary came at a cost of nearly $40,000. Some fifty years later, that value had increased to more than one million dollars. The first published annual report in 1889 revealed that 659 patients had been cared for with a budget of $11,000. The original trustees of the institution included Mark Collis, Mary Goodloe, T. T. Forman, David C. Frost, Ida Withers Harrison, J. R. Howard, John Lewis, W. L. Threlkeld, J. L. Watkins, and Milford White. The medical staff included consulting physician Dr. H. M. Skillman, consulting surgeon Dr. David Barrow, and doctors F. H. Clark, B. L. Coleman, and J. C. Carrick; surgeons included doctors John W. Scott, G. D. Kelly, and W. O. Bullock.

Private Room in the Good Samaritan Hospital in 1899. (From the Lexington Herald, Lexington, Kentucky, 20 June 1954)

Over time, it was realized that there was a need for a nurses’ training school at the hospital. In 1893 the first class of graduate nurses included four women; Miss Anna Dorcas, who went on to serve as superintendent of the hospital and Mrs. Sarah Mock. The school produced six graduate nurses in 1895, two in 1897, and ten in 1899. In the winter of 1895, the infirmary was transferred by the women of the Episcopal Church to all of the protestant churches of the city of Lexington and was renamed Good Samaritan Hospital. Control of the hospital was held by a board of trustees that included two representatives from each of the five protestant denominations (Baptist, Christian, Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian). The newly renamed hospital stayed at its original location until 1907 when it moved into a brand new building on South Limestone in Lexington. The new hospital contained 130 patient beds. Superintendents at the ‘old’ institutions were Miss Janet Bahring, Mrs. May McIntyre, and Miss Anna Dorcas. Miss Mary Shavers served as the first superintendent of the new hospital’s location until 1912. She was succeeded by Miss Josephine F. Royden. Miss Alberta Dozier was a temporary superintendent in 1925 until she was succeeded by Miss Lake Johnson. It was under Johnson’s management in which significant growth of the hospital was made.

By the summer of 1914, the nurses’ home had been completed and nurses moved into the new building. In the winter of 1925, the hospital was taken over by the General Hospital Board of the Southern Methodist Church. The next year saw a new heating plant followed by a five-story, fireproof annex that had 36 private beds, an obstetrical department, an operating pavilion that had six operating rooms, and an x-ray and radiotherapy departments.

In 1926, the Crippled Children’s Hospital, managed by the Shriner’s in conjunction with Good Samaritan Hospital, was built. Nearing the end of the 1920s, an addition was built to the nurses’ home with 32 additional beds for nurses. In 1930, the Mary A. Ott building was completed and contained 40 rooms. By 1954 a new “south” wing had been erected and dedicated at the hospital at a cost of about one million dollars. The new addition included advanced medical technology and specialized operating theaters, including one for orthopedic operations. The number of operating rooms in the hospital jumped to seventeen. The total number of patient beds ballooned to 385, making it the second-largest general hospital in the state of Kentucky. The new “south” wing housed patients on the first and second floors, the third flood contained labor and delivery rooms for maternity patients, the fourth floor was devoted to a surgical suite, and the fifth floor held rooms for orthopedic patients. Oxygen was piped directly into patient rooms and an “Executone” call system allowed nurses to talk with patients remotely in their rooms.

(From the James Edwin Weddle Photographic Collection, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky)

The hospital continued to see steady growth throughout the remainder of the 20th century. In 2007, the renamed “Samaritan Hospital” filed for bankruptcy protection. However, the University of Kentucky began footing the bill for the hospital’s daily expenses and eventually took over its management of daily operations. As of 2019, Good Samaritan Hospital still operates under the auspices of the University of Kentucky Healthcare.

Good Samaritan Image Gallery

Contributed by Shawn Logan |

⁘ Works Cited ⁘

  1. The Lexington Leader, 9 December 1949
  2. The Lexington Leader, 12 December 1952
  1. The Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 5 June 1938, p. 32.
  2. Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Kentucky), 7 June 2007.
  3. Weddle, James Edwin. The James Edwin Weddle Photographic Collection, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
  4. Nollau, Louis Edward. The Louis Edward Nollau Nitrate Photographic Print Collection, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky
  5. Lafayette Studios. The Lafayette Studios Photographs: 1930s-1940s Decades, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky

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