General Hospital celebrates 128 years of caring for the community

Hospital CEO Dr. Joseph Webb (center) addresses the crowd as enthusiastic supporters hold signs with the new slogan, ‘Here to Stay.’

Davidson County’s premiere hospital, Nashville General Hospital at Meharry (NGH), recently celebrated its 128th birthday. Local politicians and community leaders were on hand to help one of Nashville’s most historic organizations celebrate the milestone.

Other notables included At-Large Councilwoman and Mayoral candidate Erica Gilmore; At-Large Councilman John Cooper; District 2 Councilman DeCosta Hastings; and Herschel Warren, senior adviser at the Mayor’s office.

The Mayor’s Office was represented by new Senior Legislative Liaison Freda Player-Peters, who reiterated the commitment from the mayor to supporting General Hospital’s mission to provide high quality health care to those in need regardless of their ability to pay.

“Keeping residents healthy is key to a thriving, resilient city and the ability to have a safety net hospital is a critical resource in our work to promote better healthcare,” said Player-Peters.

District 5 Councilman Scott Davis, who is running for State Representative for District 54, has been one of the hospital’s biggest supporters.

“It is said that General Hospital represents what is best of Nashville, and I couldn’t agree more,” said Davis. “Nashville can look forward to 128 more years of quality care that encompasses the entire community.”

Nashville General Hospital is Nashville’s original community-based hospital. Joint Commission accredited, NGH readily accommodates a wide range of needs from emergency services and acute care to ancillary and ambulatory services. NGH continues to maintain its strong commitment to the healthcare needs of Nashville and Davidson County’s underserved, while also providing care to all segments of the community.

First opening as City Hospital on April 23, 1890, on Hermitage Avenue, NGH relocated to the Meharry Medical College campus in January 1998. The relocation highlights the blending of two rich medical histories to provide one of the best healthcare facilities in the area.

“It’s a great day to celebrate 128 years of providing excellent healthcare to the Nashville community,” said NGH Chief Executive Officer Dr. Joseph Webb. “The last few months have been challenging for Nashville General and for the staff, but today is a new era.”

Thanks to Webb’s leadership, health outcomes and the patient experience at NGH has improved greatly. As a result of those improvements, General Hospital has been able to decrease the costs of caring for the community by keeping people in better health—thus reducing the community’s need to utilize the emergency room.

Webb pointed to displays of old medical equipment displayed around the room and discussed how the hospital started in 1890 with just one physician and six nurses.

“I’d say we’ve grown a little bit since then,” Webb said. “What a difference 128 years of providing healthcare for thousands of patients can make.

“I want to express thanks to the City Council for their support, the hospital and its board, volunteers, and our staff for their work and dedication and commitment to the mission.

“We want to introduce a new campaign that will show the hospital and highlight its role within the community,” Webb continued
NGH also took advantage of its birthday celebration to unveil its new slogan, ‘Here to Stay.’

“I want to thank all attending and those who have been steadfast,” said Dr. Jan Brandes, chair of the Hospital Authority of Metro Nashville. “We have gone through a very difficult time in the history of Nashville General. We know what our priorities are and where we need to be, I think.

‘Here to Stay’ is a rally emblematic of how we all feel in our hearts and what we mean to accomplish and how we really move forward. Our priority will always be to provide extraordinary patient care to those who come to us regardless of their ability to pay.”

NGH historical marker found

Of special note to the celebration is the historical marker from the hospital’s original location that made its star appearance in front of the podium. According to Assistant Director of Facility Management Calvin Binkley, the marker was delivered back to the hospital about three years ago. “Murfreesboro Police contacted me here at the hospital and said, ‘We have something that belongs to you.’ During the raid of a house they found our sign, and they brought it back to us.” Nashville General plans on displaying the marker again, sometime in the future.