Health was the focus of this month’s Hardin County Chamber of Commerce luncheon with Hardin Memorial Health taking center stage.

The event, held Wednesday at Prit­chard Community Center in Elizabeth­town, included the Health and Human Services Expo, which featured local vendors aimed at providing the community with information on health and wellness.

The speaker at the luncheon was Dennis Johnson, president and CEO of HMH, which is celebrating the 65th anniversary of its opening today.

Now one of Kentucky’s largest hospitals, when it opened, Johnson said HMH was a rural hospital with less than 100 beds and served mainly Hardin County.

Today, the HMH service area spans 10 counties in central Kentucky with about two of every five patients coming from surrounding areas.

Johnson said HMH is far more than an inpatient hospital, noting it provides imaging centers, laboratory centers, urgent care centers, mobile health services and more to all of the counties throughout central Kentucky.

“It is not your grandfather’s or grand­mother’s HMH any longer,” he said. “We are now a major adult system serving multiple counties in the state of Kentucky.”

Johnson said the hospital ranks ninth in the state in baby deliveries, fourth in endoscopies, sixth in outpatient surgeries, fifth in outpatient volumes and operates Kentucky’s second busiest emergency department.

Each year for the past seven or eight years, Johnson said the hospital has averaged about 11 percent growth, “which by our industry standards is phenomenal growth.”

To achieve this, John­son said in 2011 the hospital board of trustees along with key members of position at the hospital created a strategic plan with an emphasis on physicians, facilities and services.

Johnson touted HMH’s cutting-edge services, from its multidisciplinary breast and lung cancer programs, to its expanded robotic surgical services as well as its advanced total hip and knee replacement certification and its industry-leading sexual assault nurse examiner program.

Johnson also praised the vision of the HMH board, which is comprised of the nine elected members of Hardin Fiscal Court. He credits much of HMH’s success to the trustees and their commitment to the strategic plan, which has enhanced HMH facilities and improved overall patient care.

Johnson said the board realized that because the hospital has done well over the years, it could not rest on laurels alone, but has to prepare for the future. Last spring, the HMH Board of Trustees entered into a $361.4 million asset purchase agreement with Baptist Health. The acquisition was placed on hold after a lawsuit was filed by Dr. Larry Hall of Elizabethtown.

“Once we get past this lawsuit, we will be poised for years to come for the next 65 years to take care of the patients and residents of central Kentucky,” Johnson said.

Also at the chamber luncheon, Elizabethtown Mayor Jeff Gregory presented Johnson with a proclamation, proclaiming Feb. 14, 2019, as Har­din Memorial Health Day.

“I hereby call upon all citizens of the city of Elizabethtown thereof to render support to the members of this organization and to make themselves aware of Har­din Memorial Health and its essential contributions to our community,” Gregory said. “Thank you, HMH, and happy birthday.”

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or

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