Built by Faith Growing by Grace


Looking at Western Baptist Hospital today, you would never imagine that there was a time when the hospital stood as an empty shell, with weeds surrounding its frame. In fact, during its earliest years, some commented that the people who initiated the building had more faith than money. It’s been said, however, that faith can move mountains, and in the hospital’s case, it moved a few weeds as well.

The vision that later became Western Baptist Hospital actually began as early as 1945, when the Rev. George Phillips originated a seven-member committee to build a Baptist hospital. Three years later, groundbreaking exercises were held at 25th and Kentucky Avenue with the theme “Building for the Glory of God and Suffering Humanity.” Without enough money to complete construction, however, the empty building stood among the growing weeds from 1950 to 1952.

At last, the vision became a reality when Western Baptist Hospital opened in 1953. By 1973, the hospital had grown from 117 to 283 beds and had added a new wing on Kentucky Avenue with more than 650 employees. At this point in the hospital’s colorful history, Paducah area residents had pledged more than $1.4 million toward its building fund.

Characteristic of its past and indicative of its future, Western Baptist today continues to grow. Now operating 379 licensed beds, it employs 1,660 with an annual payroll of $77 million. The main campus covers eight square blocks from 24th to 28th streets and Broadway to Kentucky Avenue. The hospital and adjacent structures, including five medical
office buildings, a free-standing digital imaging center, a day care center and the area’s only parking garage, occupy about 1 million square feet of space valued at more than $400 million.

Not only has the hospital changed in physical appearance, but also it has made significant investments in leading-edge technology, including advances in an all-digital diagnostic department, minimally-invasive operative procedures and advanced cardiac and cancer care.

“Those who worked so hard to raise money to build Western Baptist nearly 60 years ago can look at it today with well-earned pride,” said Larry Barton, president and CEO. “From a small beginning, the hospital has become a comprehensive medical center, bringing advanced care and technology home to this region.”

The same mission that brought Western Baptist into existence in 1953 continues to be its guiding principle—to continue its Christian heritage of service and to enhance the health of the people and communities it serves.

Through the years, community support has helped the hospital build sophisticated facilities, provide advanced technologies and recruit experienced and dedicated physicians and staff. Now the new Western Baptist Hospital Foundation Fund has been established in the same tradition that first made the hospital possible, so the community can help the hospital continue to move forward.

Long-time hospital board members Don Walker and Ned Buchanan serve as Foundation Fund co-chairs. Both have served on the board of Baptist Healthcare System and are actively involved in hospital and community organizations. The two retired businessmen lead a team of Paducah volunteers in the drive to solicit funds for the continued growth of the hospital’s Foundation Fund.

“We are fortunate to have such capable and respected people to lead our Foundation initiative,” Barton adds. “With their help and the continued contributions of the good people of this region, we hope to continue a tradition of community and compassion that has helped, healed and comforted the families of western Kentucky for more than half a century.”

The Baptist Heart Center at Western Baptist
Last fall Western Baptist broke ground on the $20 million, 79,000- square-foot Baptist Heart Center adjacent to the Emergency Department, where many cardiac emergencies are first diagnosed. The two-story center, with a helicopter pad on the rooftop, will give cardiologists and heart surgeons access to the most advanced cardiac technologies and procedures in the nation.

Foundation Fund gifts will help Western Baptist continue to improve the quality of patient care by funding the new heart center, investing in life-saving technology and attracting world-class physicians.

Many Ways To Give
The foundation will accept gifts in a variety of forms (cash, securities, real estate, trusts, personal residence/farm with retained use, new/existing life insurance policies, income stream, wills). For more information, including a variety of naming opportunities to recognize donors in the new Baptist Heart Center, phone (270) 575-2871 or go to westernbaptist.com.