Henderson County, Kentucky


It sounded as if Henderson County residents just couldn't wait to get sick.

Judging from the gushing prose in the local newspaper, the only thing better than contracting pneumonia or a bad intestinal virus would have been maybe an inflamed appendix or malfunctioning gallbladder.

It was February 1946, just prior to the official opening of the new Henderson Hospital, and the paper - quoting the facility's board chairman - said, "There seems to be a race going on between persons scheduled to use the operating room and also between expectant mothers for use of the delivery room."

It was noted that the first operation was scheduled "for 8 o'clock Monday morning, but exactly on whom it will be performed is yet undecided…"

So thrilled was the public with the just-completed Atkinson Park hospital that 2,507 of them turned out on February 6 for an open house and tour. Their enthusiasm is understandable, considering that it had taken five long years of local effort, miles of red tape and constant communication with Washington, D.C., to make the institution a reality.

That 60-bed facility, which was the infancy phase of the 213-bed hospital now known as Community Methodist, was built primarily with government funds and initially belonged to the federal government.

It succeeded a hodgepodge of inadequate places that at one time or another had served as hospitals here. The very first one had been a crude, one-story structure built on the riverbank between 11th and 12th streets in 1847.

Then there had been a converted residence at Eighth and Green Streets; a building at the corner of Center and Green Streets; Mosely Hospital at Adams and Washington Streets (now the Henderson Hotel) and a former TB treatment facility turned hospital on South Main Street.

The new hospital was touted as being "far in advance of other hospitals in the United States."

R. C. ASHTON, divisional engineer for the Federal Works Agency, told a joint gathering of Henderson's civic clubs that the hospital must serve "more than just those of the local city and county … You must draw no line…"

One of Henderson's civic leaders proclaimed that the town had joined "the big leagues of hospitalization and medical care with every promise of a happier and healthier people…"

Dr. John ROGERS, chairman of the hospital board, told the various club members, "We have all the necessary equipment to serve your sickness. No longer will there be a need for ambulances to take our people to Evansville for treatment."

Much of the credit for the facility was given to then - Mayor Robert POSEY and City Commissioners John HART and Otis BENTON, as well as County Judge Fred VOGEL, Gleaner publisher Leigh HARRIS and "many others."

Dr. ROGERS said the number of patients expected to be admitted to the hospital on the coming Sunday largely depended "on how boisterous Henderson County is on Saturday night."

Reprinted with permission.
Progress Edition, The Gleaner, Henderson, KY, Saturday, March 30, 1996
Written by Judy Jenkins

Contributed by Netta Mullin, HCH&GS
Copyright 2002 HCH&GS