In the late 1940s, a group of community leaders had a vision for Hardin County and the surrounding region. Albeit theirs was then a much smaller and more rural community, these leaders saw the need to provide quality healthcare close to home.
Thanks to these leaders’ advocacy and support, voters backed a county bond issue in 1951 and three years later in 1954 the 81-bed Hardin Memorial Hospital opened its doors in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.
More than a half a century later, what might have begun as a small community hospital, cared for 400,000 residents across 10 Central Kentucky counties. The Hardin Memorial Health system included a 300-bed acute care hospital and more than 50 additional locations throughout the region, providing primary care and 45 specialties including orthopedics, oncology, cardiology and more. While Hardin County Government retained ownership, a management contract with Louisville-based Baptist Health provided valuable expertise in operations and leadership.
HMH served a critically important role in the community and continued growing rapidly. The hospital’s North Tower included 56 private, patient-centric rooms. More than 1,600 babies were born each year at HMH BirthPlace. BirthPlace also provided the region’s only Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a highly trained team including two neonatologists providing 24-hour coverage. The HMH Emergency Department also underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation to better accommodate the more 70,000 patients seen there each year.
With more than 550 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, many with long-standing ties to the region, coupled with a staff of more than 2,900, HMH prided itself on providing the highest level of care, treating patients like family because in many cases they are family!
The results of strong physicians, state-of-the-art facilities and warm, friendly care, spoke for themselves. The hospital has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals® based on clinical processes and outcomes, patient safety, operational efficiency and financial stability. It was also named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s top 10 healthcare systems in the nation with strong finances.
As the third largest employer in Hardin County, HMH offered over 2,900 people from Central Kentucky challenging and interesting career opportunities.
Since 1965, the HMH Board of Trustees, comprised of the Hardin County Judge/Executive and Hardin County magistrates, provided leadership to HMH. In November 2016, the Hardin Memorial Health Board of Trustees announced it was issuing a Request for Proposals to explore partnership opportunities with interested health care organizations. The county received 36 responses and narrowed the list to roughly 10 for more in-depth analysis.
In August 2017, Hardin County Government announces it will negotiate exclusively with Baptist Health, which could lead to the sale of the hospital and Hardin Memorial Health’s network of medical facilities. Two months later, the Board of Trustees of Hardin Memorial Health and Baptist Health execute a letter of intent, which outlines terms for negotiations of a potential sale.
In May 2018, Hardin Memorial Health and Baptist Health enter into $361.4 million purchase agreement. Later that month, on May 22, the HMH Board of Trustees voted 8-1 to approve the sale of the health system to long-time manager Baptist Health.
On September 1, 2020, Baptist Health finalized the purchase of Hardin Memorial Health and changed its name to Baptist Health Hardin, in keeping with its tradition of linking the hospital name with its geographic location.
All told, the transaction includes $361.4 million in payments and future investments.
The closing came about three years after the Hardin Memorial Health Board of Trustees signed a letter of intent to pursue the sale to long-time manager Baptist Health. Prior to that, the board conducted an exhaustive search for a new partner for the regional health system, sifting through about three dozen proposals before choosing Baptist Health.
“This is a great day in the history of this community and our health system,” said Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry who also served as hospital board chair. “The hospital board sought the best solution to continue providing the excellent healthcare that our community – and 10-county service area – have come to expect. We found that solution in Baptist Health, which has helped guide us so successfully for more than 20 years.”