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Our History

historyThe history of The University of Kansas Health System is a tale of triumph. From humble beginnings, we have evolved into a destination academic medical center sought out by patients and top-notch medical professionals from around the country. Our reputation as the region’s premier academic medical center was hard earned through a collective vision and commitment to unmatched patient care.

Hospital origins

With his donation of land in 1905, Simeon Bell, MD, set the stage for academic medicine in Kansas City and the region. His gift led to the establishment of a hospital founded in 1906 as part of the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

The hospital marked an important milestone in 1998 when it became an independent hospital authority, receiving no state funding and no longer part of the School of Medicine. The hospital's official name became The University of Kansas Hospital.

Hospital milestones

  • 2000: Level 1 Trauma Center is verified. We provide the region's only nationally verified center, ensuring the highest quality care for trauma victims.

  • 2001: World-class cardiac care program is established. Teams of renowned cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons, known at the time as Mid-America Cardiology and MidAmerica Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgeons, join the hospital to establish a world-class comprehensive cardiac care program for patients throughout the region. The Center for Advanced Heart Care later opens in 2006.

  • 2006: Hospital earns Magnet® designation. This recognition, provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet Recognition Program, indicates high quality patient care and nursing excellence. The hospital was the first in Kansas to achieve this accreditation. The hospital would earn redesignation in 2011 and 2016.

  • 2007: U.S. News & World Report names us one of the nation's best hospitals. The magazine lists us among the nation's top 50 hospitals for adult care in nine medical and surgical specialties. We are also named the No. 1 hospital in Kansas City, the region and the state of Kansas. We have made the Best Hospitals list every year since 2007.

  • 2007: Westwood, Kansas, outpatient cancer care facility opens. A $20 million gift from Annette Bloch enhances patient care programs, and the facility is named the Richard and Annette Bloch Cancer Care Pavilion.

  • 2011: The University of Kansas Cancer Center acquires Kansas City Cancer Center. This adds multiple cancer center locations to communities throughout the region and establishes an unprecedented approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship, while serving as a national model for cancer care delivery.

  • 2011: Hospital becomes the official healthcare provider of the Kansas City Royals. In 2012, the hospital becomes the official healthcare provider of the Kansas City Chiefs.

  • 2012: The University of Kansas Cancer Center earns National Cancer Institute designation. Only 70 cancer centers in the nation are NCI-designated. The cancer center would renew its designation in 2017.

  • 2012: Hospital earns Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. The hospital is the first in Kansas City to earn this designation for high-quality stroke care.

  • 2012: Indian Creek Campus opens. Hospital and clinic locations in Johnson County, Kansas, help meet increased demand for conveniently located care from surgeons and other specialists.

  • 2012: Turning Point joins The University of Kansas Hospital. This community resource focuses on the emotional, social and psychological needs of people dealing with serious or chronic illnesses.

  • 2013: Center for Transplantation opens. The center provides comprehensive care for liver, kidney, pancreas and heart transplant patients in one location.

  • 2014: The Kansas Heart and Stroke Collaborative is established. The University of Kansas Hospital establishes the program after receiving a $12.5 million grant. Originally aimed at improving prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke in Kansas, the Care Collaborative, as it's now known, has expanded its focus to include improvements in sepsis, trauma and palliative care.

  • 2015: The hospital expands behavioral healthcare services through new hospital locations at Marillac, which serves children and adolescents, and KVC Health Systems, which serves adults.

  • 2016: The first heart transplant is performed as part of the hospital's re-established heart transplant program. The heart transplant program is the only one of its kind in Kansas.

  • 2016: Blood and marrow transplant program performs first bone marrow transplant in an adult Kansas woman to cure sickle cell disease. The region's largest blood and marrow transplant program, established in 1977, offers lifesaving procedures for leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers.

  • 2017: First in the nation to achieve Comprehensive Cardiac Center (CCC) Certification. CCC certification honors heart programs with a comprehensive approach to care and a commitment to excellence, along with a dedication to continuous improvement.

  • 2017: The University of Kansas Hospital and The University of Kansas Physicians combine to form The University of Kansas Health System. By pooling the collective knowledge and resources of our physicians and staff, we are able to better meet the needs of the communities we serve.

  • 2017: Cambridge Tower A opens. Cambridge Tower A is an expansion on the main campus of The University of Kansas Health System, featuring 92 private rooms and 11 state-of-the-art surgical suites.

  • 2017: Achieved Vizient's 2017 Bernard A. Birnbaum, MD, Quality Leadership Award. The award recognizes high performance in the areas of safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity and patient-centeredness.

  • 2017: The University of Kansas Health System acquires Hays Medical Center and St. Francis Health. HaysMed provides easier access to more healthcare options in the Hays, Kansas, community. And St. Francis, acquired in a partnership with Ardent Health Services, helps enhance healthcare delivery in the Topeka area.

  • 2017/2018: The University of Kansas Health System becomes a founding partner of Centrus Health, along with North Kansas City Hospital and Shawnee Mission Health. This clinically integrated network focuses on transforming healthcare by improving outcomes at a lower cost through the physician-led network of choice. Today, the effort includes more than 1,650 physicians.

  • 2017/2018: The University of Kansas Health System partners with Vibrant Health to support Federally Qualified Health Centers in Wyandotte County. These centers provide essential primary care services to underserved communities.

  • 2018: The University of Kansas Health System announces Strawberry Hill Campus. The facility in Kansas City, Kansas, is the future home to the health system's expanded mental and behavioral health program.

  • 2018: Great Bend Regional Hospital becomes The University of Kansas Health System Great Bend Campus. Affiliated clinics, Central Kansas Family Practice and Heartland Regional, also join the health system.

A legacy of excellence

Building on a legacy of patient care that began in 1906, the hospital – and its campus partners, the University of Kansas Medical Center and The University of Kansas Physicians – set our sights on becoming the best in the nation. Today, the hospital is consistently ranked among top hospitals in quality and safety by The University HealthSystem Consortium’s Quality and Accountability Study. We have also been nationally ranked since 2007 among U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, and have been named the best hospital in Kansas City for nine consecutive years.

Learn more about our accomplishments, including national and regional awards.