Celebrating 200 years of Eastern State Hospital

Eastern State Hospital

This year, we’re immensely proud to recognize and celebrate Eastern State Hospital’s 200th anniversary. 

Eastern State opened on May 1, 1824 at its original site on Lexington’s Newtown Pike. Today, Eastern State — managed by UK HealthCare since 2013 — has the remarkable distinction of being the oldest continuously operating state psychiatric facility in the United States.

For most of its early years, the original Eastern State Hospital — now home to Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s Newtown Campus — operated like its own community. Patients and staff grew vegetables, raised chickens, milked cows and sewed. The grounds covered 400 acres, much of it farmland, and many employees lived there. In 1912, Eastern State Hospital also had its own nursing school, and for many years nurses lived in a dorm on campus. 

In 2013, after 189 years at its original location, Eastern State Hospital moved to a new 300,000-square-foot facility on UK's Coldstream Research Campus. At the same time, UK HealthCare began managing the state-owned hospital, launching a hopeful new chapter in its history. 

Today, our 500-plus employees at Eastern State care for about 135 patients every day, providing expert inpatient mental health services and acute psychiatric inpatient care for adults from a 50-county area of southcentral, northern and northeastern Kentucky. 

We’re proud to continue Eastern State’s history of  innovation by offering dedicated emergency mental health services. UK HealthCare this summer will begin providing services on the Eastern State campus for adults in need of emergency psychiatric care – the first in Kentucky to use the EmPATH model (Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment and Healing).

Eastern State Hospital was the first state psychiatric facility in the entire country to achieve Magnet designation, a remarkable success attained by fewer than 7 percent of healthcare organizations. This is the gold standard for nursing excellence granted by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program — a sign of expertise, dedication and teamwork. 

Celebrating 200 years of Eastern State Hospital also honors the legacy of Dorothea Dix, a tireless advocate for reforming psychiatric care during the 19th century. Her visits to Eastern State in the mid-1800s led to significant improvements in conditions, including funding for two more buildings. Continuing to provide exceptional, expert care to our patients is the best way we can honor her.

As we celebrate Eastern State’s bicentennial, we’re proud to play a part in helping Kentuckians reclaim their lives through recovery-focused psychiatric care — upholding the Eastern State Hospital mission of instilling hope, inspiring recovery and improving overall well-being.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

Topics in this Story

    Mental Health