The Miners Memorial Hospital Association was a non-profit organization that provided health services for the coal mining regions of Eastern Kentucky and South West Virginia in the 1950s. This was done to promote change of medical care in the region. Whitesburg Memorial Hospital was the last of ten hospitals to be built by the Miners Memorial Hospital Association.
Plans and Hospitals
The plans for the new hospitals were published in the newspapers in 1953. This major task would be under the direction of Doctor Warren F. Draper, who was the Executive Medical Officer of the Fund. The hospitals would be dedicated by Mr. Lewis at Beckley, West Virginia on June 2, 1953. The hospitals would open their doors to patients in 1956.
They would build hospitals in Harlan, Hazard, McDowell, Middlesboro, Whitesburg, Pikeville and South Williamson, Kentucky; Man and Beckley, West Virginia; and Wise, Virginia.
The hospitals would be built with the help of loans from the United Mine Workers Welfare and Retirement Fund. The miners would be the primary beneficiaries, however, they would also be open to all of the people in the area. Only in the cases of emergency where there would be bed shortages would this policy change and the miners would be given first priority.
Whitesburg Hospital Ground Breaking
Saturday, November 7, 1953, at 10:00 a.m., six hundred people came to watch the ground breaking ceremony of the Whitesburg Memorial Hospital. It was the last of a chain of ten hospitals that were being built in the region by the United Mine Workers of America.
The breaking of the ground was preformed by Judge Robert B. Collins. The Whitesburg Memorial hospital would open with an estimated 92-bed capacity and would be ready for operations in 18 months from its ground-breaking ceremony.
Senator J.E. Johnson’s Bill
According to the Mountain Eagle, Senator J.E. Johnson, who was a Pike County physician went to the Kentucky State Legislature because of problems with the medical care that many people were receiving. Under this new bill, a patient would be given the right to select their own physician and could not be denied that right.
The President of the UMW, District 30, Sam Caddy, said that new bill would put the hospitals out of business.
Appalachian Regional Healthcare
By the 1960s, the Miners Memorial Hospitals would close some of their hospitals. A new independent not-for-profit organization headed by the Board of National Missions would purchase and rename the remaining hospitals Appalachian Regional Hospitals (ARH). To reflect its far-ranging services that they now provided, ARH, new health system would rename themselves to the Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) in 1986.
The Appalachian Regional Healthcare system has expanded their hospitals to include the cities of Barbourville, Hazard, Harlan, Hyden, Martin, McDowell, Middlesboro, Paintsville, Prestonsburg, South Williamson, West Liberty and Whitesburg in Kentucky; as well as Beckley and Hinton in West Virginia. As well as investing in new technology and medical capabilities, they continue to expand to build and acquire new facilities to help the communities with their growing health care needs.
Thank you for watching our video about “The Whitesburg Memorial Hospital 1953 Through the Present”. We thank you for continuing to support Kentucky Tennessee Living. As we bring to you the history of the Appalachian Mountains.
$130 Million Balance in 1956 UMWA Welfare Fund
Thursday, September 20, 1956
The Way We Were
Thursday, February 27, 1958
Man Miners Memorial Hospital
Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH)
The Miner’s Hospitals
November 12, 1953
New Whitesburg Memorial Hospital
November 12, 1953
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When we forget our past and who we are as a people, then we become who “they” say we are. ~~ David Sergent
I have attended the University of Kentucky. I have an Associates Degree from Hazard Community College and Technical School. I have also attended the University of Pikeville. I have taken several classes in Journalism as well as in the Appalachian History, Literature, and Sociology during my time at those schools.
I was born in Florida and grew up in Burdine, Kentucky. I have been married to David W. Sergent since May 4, 2013. I have two children and four grandchildren from a previous marriage. I currently live in Tennessee but my hope is to one day come back home to live in the beautiful mountains once more.