In the early 1950s, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, a congregation of Catholic sisters, received repeated requests from Kentucky residents to open a hospital. In 1953 a group of concerned citizens approached the Most Reverend William T. Malloy, Bishop of Covington, and asked for his help in creating a new hospital called Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital. Construction started in 1952 on a 31-acre tract, four miles from downtown Ashland. At the time, the tract only was accessible by a small dirt road. The official dedication of the hospital took place July 14, 1953 and included a reading of a cablegram from Pope Pius XII. It read, "Our Holy Father deeply grateful, learned forthcoming inauguration, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, Ashland, Kentucky, sends cordial felicitations. Invokes God's special blessings, praiseworthy project. Imparts Your Excellency, priests, religious, faithful, and hospital staff, fraternal Apostolic Benediction."
Upon opening in 1954, the hospital had 92 beds and 40 bassinets. In March 1956, the road leading to the hospital was blacktopped and during the summer a new highway, U.S. 23, was laid reducing by about one-third the distance from Ashland to the hospital.
In 1999, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Health System announced plans to disband and in 2000 OLBH was purchased by the Bon Secours Health System, Inc. of Baltimore, MD. OLBH was a perfect fit and shared the spiritual philosophy of Bon Secours. The era of OLBH as a member of the Bon Secours Health System has seen unprecedented growth, including the expansion of the hospital’s campus to Bellefonte Centre, home to the OLBH Women’s Center, the OLBH Imaging Center and the OLBH Diabetes & Wound Care Center, and Bellefonte Pavilion, the location of Firm Fitness, one of the area’s premiere fitness facilities.
Today, OLBH is a 214-bed facility that is part of the Bon Secours Kentucky Health System. The system also includes Bellefonte Physician Services which provides a variety of services, from primary care to pediatric, urgent and specialty care. The providers of Bellefonte Physician Services offer services from nearly 40 locations throughout the Tri-State.
As it has always done, OLBH and its caring staff continue a healing ministry intent on providing “good help to those in need.”