Saint Luke’s Health System History

In 1882, Saint Luke’s was a small hospital serving a frontier trading town. Today we are an integrated system of 10 hospitals with more than 9,500 employees caring for a metropolitan area of 2 million people, and our service area spans 67 counties in Missouri and Kansas.

As Kansas City’s only locally owned not-for-profit health system, we’re proud of our faith-based heritage, which we believe sets us apart and truly impacts the quality of care that we provide. And we are honored to be continually recognized for our commitment to quality, compassionate care.

The first 100 years

The predecessor to today’s Saint Luke’s Hospital was founded by an Episcopal priest, the Rev. Henry David Jardine. He convened a meeting of Kansas City businessmen in a small wooden church on July 7, 1882, to discuss a citywide need for better hospital care.

This new hospital operated for about 11 years. It closed for a year and then reopened as Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. One of the three incorporators of the revived hospital was the first bishop of the new Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri, the Right Rev. Edward Atwill, who assumed sponsorship of Saint Luke’s. Today the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri maintains that oversight, with the bishop serving as Chairman of Saint Luke’s Hospital’s Board of Directors.

Even in Saint Luke’s early days, the provision of charity care and mission-driven care were important, as well as a commitment to providing medical education.

From the beginning, Saint Luke’s Hospital was designated as a teaching hospital, instructing medical students how to diagnose and treat disease. Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences, founded in 1903 to provide nursing education, has taught more than 3,500 nurses over the years.

In 1990, Saint Luke’s Hospital officially became a primary teaching hospital of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Innovative care

In the early 1970s, Saint Luke’s leaders were among the first in the country to recognize the importance of disease-specific care in which resources, people, and technology are aligned to diagnose and treat complex organ system dysfunction. As a result, they established the nation’s first heart hospital, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

Today, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute is nationally recognized for its work in the non-surgical treatment of heart disease, its outcomes research, and its organ transplantation program. Following this model, Saint Luke’s created additional specialty medical facilities, including Saint Luke’s Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute , a national leader in the reversal of ischemic strokes; Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute; and centers that cater to women’s and children’s specific medical needs.

Growing with the Kansas City region

For its first 107 years, Saint Luke’s was comprised of just one health care facility. That changed in 1989 with the construction of Saint Luke’s North Hospital and our acquisition of Spelman Memorial Hospital in the northern part of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

The hospital’s metropolitan presence continued to expand, with the opening of Saint Luke’s South Hospital in 1998 and Saint Luke’s East Hospital in 2006.

Crittenton Children’s Center, which cares for the emotional health of children and families, officially joined the health system in 1992. 

Saint Luke’s Health System expanded outside the Kansas City area with the addition of Wright Memorial Hospital in Trenton, MO, in 1994, and Anderson County Hospital  in Garnett, KS, in 1995. Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital in Leavenworth, KS, joined Saint Luke’s in 2001, followed by Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe, MO, in 2003.

Saint Luke’s Health System today

The health system’s outstanding clinical outcomes, reputation for exceptional customer service, dedication to research and innovation, and state-of-the-art facilities and technology reflect our vision of being “The Best Place to Get Care and the Best Place to Give Care.”

Saint Luke’s commitment to education is more robust than ever. We support accredited training programs in all major physician specialties and such areas as chaplaincy, nursing, laboratory, radiology, and respiratory. Saint Luke’s also supports numerous graduate, post-graduate, and continuing medical education programs; endowed teaching positions; and clinical research programs.

Despite major medical advances, incredible growth, and international acclaim for its clinical outcomes, a few things remain the same today: Saint Luke’s is proud to continue its tradition of providing high quality, leading-edge, compassionate care, and its faith-based heritage.