Baptist Health of Arkansas: Dedicated to Wellness, Driven by Purpose

In late 1920, the Arkansas Baptist State Convention purchased the former Little Rock Sanitarium property in downtown Little Rock to build a new hospital to serve the state of Arkansas and began temporary operations in the sanitarium building. On February 16, 1921, the Pulaski County Circuit Court incorporated the Baptist State Hospital, giving the hospital official standing as a legal entity.

Although the original hospital opened its doors with less than a hundred beds, the small building served 1,315 patients during its first year of operation. From the humble beginnings of Baptist State Hospital through the 100 years it has taken to become the Baptist Health system we know today, the purpose has remained the same—to create a healthier community through Christian compassion and innovative services.

Healthcare has changed significantly since the hospital first opened. During the 1920s, patients were charged $2 per day for ward beds and $4.30 for a private room with the fees including “all ordinary medicines, surgical dressings, rooms, meals and services of floor nurses and interns.” The operating rooms cost $10 for major surgical cases and $6 for minor cases.

As new treatments and technologies developed, Baptist Health remained committed to providing cutting-edge care, including:

  • The first eye bank in Arkansas
  • The first “blue baby” heart surgery in the state
  • The first psychiatric unit in a private Arkansas hospital
  • The state’s first cobalt therapy unit in a private hospital
  • The state’s first open-heart surgery done in a private hospital
  • The first heart transplant surgery in Arkansas
  • The first hospital in Arkansas to perform single site robotic surgery


Today, Baptist Health is Arkansas’ most comprehensive healthcare organization with more than 250 points of access that include 11 hospitals, urgent care centers, a senior living community, and over 100 primary and specialty care clinics in Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. The system additionally offers a college with studies in nursing and allied health, a graduate residency program, and access to virtual care through a mobile app. Baptist Health, as the largest not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, provides care to patients wherever they are through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians, and community outreach programs.