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RCH History

County Judge Terril Flanagan & RCH Board Chairman Charles Gore breaking ground in January 1980 for construction of the Russell County Hospital. In that week's issue of The Times Journal, David Davenport wrote....

"Chairman Gore gave special recognition to County Judge Terril Flanagan for his persistance and leadership in guiding the activities of the hospital committee and in obtaining the certificate of need."

The quest for Russell County Hospital dates back to the 1930's. Several reports from longtime community leaders tell that efforts to obtain a hospital originated in the 30's and unsuccessfully continued for several years.

In the 1960's local residents went to the polls and voted a hospital tax, but efforts over the years were again unsuccessful.

It was in the 1970's when Russell County decided to join efforts with Adair County to establish and build a regional health facility. This was during the period the state initiated the need for regional facilities and basically called for a stop to issuing certificates of need for individual county hospitals.

The regional plans for Russell County soon fell by the wayside as the regional plans were calling for a hospital to be built for Taylor, Adair, and Russell with the facility to be constructed near the Adair-Taylor county line. Again, Russell Countians decided they wanted a hospital in their own community and withdrew from the regional concept.

A young physician from Russell County Dr. Barrett Bernard and two of his classmates, Dr. Rick Miles and Dr. Larry Loehle came to the county and stated they would locate to Russell County, if Russell County would get a hospital.

With this, Russell County again attempted to get hospital plans underway. In 1977, voters for the second time voted in a hospital tax issue to construct a hospital in Russell County.

County Judge Terrill Flanagan, appointed a Russell County Hospital Committee and efforts were again initiated. The committee was composed of Charles Gore, Dr. Vic Henry, Dr. Charles Peck, Jack Stephens, Welby Hoover, Cosby Popplewell, Bobby Wilson, and Lester Bernard.
The committee initiated efforts by employing Frank Groschelle as their Hospital Consultant and work began on compiling an application for a certificate of need.

Again, it appears the efforts to obtain a hospital in Russell County were unlikely. The state board of licensure firmly stated all the bed allocations for the region were taken and a certificate of need could not, be issued for Russell County. The hospital committee and citizens of Russell County did not accept this as final and continued in the process of obtaining a Certificate of Need.

October 1978 the hospital committee submitted their request in the first step to obtain the CON. This was to the Sub Area Health Planning Council. The application showed figures that in 1976 approximately 1,579 persons from Russell received 11,000 hospital days in hospitals outside Russell County.

Since this was a board composed of area resident, approval for the CON was granted. The next step took the CON to the Lake Cumberland Health Council. Again the council granted their approval for the CON.

The next steps would take the CON process to the East Kentucky Health Services Council and then to the state. Both were expected to give a negative response to the request.

With this in mind, the county took their appeal to the people. A public appeal was made to the citizens to take up their request and physically follow the process. Buses were organized and convoys were planned for the citizens to attend the regional meeting in Winchester and state-wide coverage was given to the process that was keeping a small county from obtaining a hospital when they had already voted in a hospital tax and had doctors ready to move into the county.

Among those speaking before the council were Dr. Charles Peck, Miles, Bernard and Loehle, Dr. Vic Henry played a most important role at this session. Dr. Henry was a member of the council and his influence with fellow council members was extremely important and visible, this probably was the most important appearance was the support from State Representative Raymond Overstreet and State Senator Doug Moseley. Both appeared before the council and reported the very proves and the guidelines they were operating under was never initiated to keep a community such as Russell County form obtaining a hospital.

With approval here, the next step went before the State Health Council and the actual approval for a CON. Again, the buses were loaded and the convoy, this time with TV cameras from Lexington and Louisville, medical reps from across the area, and some 250 - 300 people headed to the state council meeting. Again, Representative Overstreet and Senator Mosley, Judge Terril Flanagan, Dr. Henry, Dr. Peck and others made the plea to the council on behalf of Russell County and the CON was finally obtained on December 13, 1978.

The first official hospital board was formed with Charles Gore, Dr. Vic Henry, Jack Stephens, Welby Hoover and Robert Wilson. The architect firm of Gresham, Keeling and Jones of Paducah was hired with Dave Jones being the architect. Frank Groschelle was hired as the first administrator on June 21, 1979.

Bids for construction were accepted from Jones, Nance and Steineman of Bowling Green at $2,448,000. Equipment and supplies were to put the total cost at $4,250,000. Bonds were put up for sale on November 29, 1979 and construction was started.

The present site of the hospital was selected for the location after the Rippetoe family agreed to donate 3.5 acres, in the memory of Edwin Rippetoe. This was accepted with the board also purchasing another 1.5 acres from the Rippetoes and an additional 4 acres from Vernon Grant.

The hospital officially opened in July, 1981 and has been in continuous operation since that time.

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