By Troy Wells, President and CEO of Baptist Health
Looking at the historical material we’ve gathered as part of the 100th anniversary celebration, I’m struck by how many names the original hospital site used through the years—Baptist State Hospital, Arkansas Baptist Hospital, Arkansas Baptist Medical Center, Baptist Medical Center, Central Baptist Hospital, and Arkansas Rehabilitation Institute.
The first change came in 1948 to cut down on confusion with the State Hospital for Nervous Disorders, which was known simply as “the State Hospital.” We became a “medical center” when our services began to branch out beyond those of a traditional hospital.
Expanding health care beyond just the in-hospital setting has been a driving force for the system, going all the way back to the 1940s when the Board purchased what is now Marylake Monastery in East End to use as a convalescent center for patients who needed care outside the acute-care setting.
Healthcare evolved, and so did we—adding outpatient services during the 1950s and clinics devoted to specific diseases and conditions on the hospital campuses. We opened the state’s first eye center in a private hospital in the 1960s as well as the only mental health unit outside of Fort Roots’ military hospital.
As the system grew, the name continued to evolve as we began branding the hospitals that joined the system as Baptist Medical Center with the location (for example, Twin Rivers Medical Center became Baptist Medical Center-Arkadelphia).
After we launched our Total Health commitment during the 1990s, we added more points of service in locations away from the hospitals—taking health care out into the community to meet people’s needs closer to their homes. Entities across our spectrum of access points—more than 250—are now branded as Baptist Health, and some still retain the “medical center” identifier.
Through every name change, we have maintained our commitment to faith-based healing throughout our century of service and remain grounded in the ideals that inspired the Arkansas Baptist State Convention to build a hospital to care for people whether they had the means to pay for that care or not.
It simply comes down to better lives through better health care. And Baptist Health has a long history of improving health care in the state. No matter what name we use, you can rest assured we will always stay true to our roots, and we’ll remain committed to find new and innovative ways to improve lives and communities.
The State of Care blog by Troy Wells, President and CEO of Baptist Health, is published once a month at Baptist-Health.com. Learn more about Baptist Health’s 100th anniversary by visiting BaptistHealth100.com.