Specialization and Hard Choices, 1960-1980
In the decades after moving downtown, Jewish Hospital underwent yet another major transformation, developing from a general hospital into a regional multi-specialty institution. In the mid-1960s, Jewish Hospital opened the first Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the city and became the site of the first kidney transplant and the first open heart surgery in Kentucky.
Medical specialization in open heart surgery and organ transplants pushed Jewish Hospital to make some hard choices. One was the 1967 decision to close its Obstetrical Department to make more space for the Intensive Care and Coronary Care units. While Jewish Hospital focused on these new areas of expertise, other hospitals invested in obstetrical care. The pressures of specialization conflicted with Jewish Hospital’s longstanding commitment to the Jewish community. Upon closing its Obstetrical Department, Jewish Hospital took steps to ensure that Jewish parents-to-be would have continued access to kosher food and facilities for ritual circumcision in other local hospitals.
These images testify to Jewish Hospital’s investment in new technologies and specialized staff during the 1960s and 1970s. This period set a precedent for pioneering procedures that would continue well into the future. For instance, in 1999, the first hand transplant in the United States was performed at Jewish Hospital.