New West Louisville hospital offers patients better access to healthcare – and hope

“I’m excited for the new hospital. It gives me hope,” said Regina. “The West End needs change. I can’t wait until it happens.”

When Regina-Riley Smith has a doctor’s appointment, it usually means having to take the entire day off from work. In order to make it to her appointment on time, she has to leave 45 minutes early to drive from her home in West Louisville’s Shawnee neighborhood to her primary care physician’s office on North Hurstbourne Parkway. By the time she returns home, hours have passed.

“It’s a long drive, but when you’ve got a good doctor, you go with it,” said Regina, who is a long-time patient of Crystal D. Narcisse, M.D., internal medicine/pediatrics specialist at Norton Community Medical Associates – Hurstbourne.

Regina, 47, has lived in West Louisville for 20 years, and is treated for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and acid reflux. She has routine appointments with her primary care physician and rheumatologist every six months. All three generations of her family – including her husband, daughters and granddaughters – are patients of Norton Healthcare, all with their own unique healthcare needs.

“My daughter has severe asthma, and we were having to make regular visits to the ICU,” said Regina. “In an emergency, it would take us 15 minutes to get downtown (to Norton Hospital), but the new hospital coming to West Louisville will be less than five minutes away.”

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On Tuesday, Norton Healthcare and Goodwill Industries of Kentucky broke ground on an Opportunity Campus at 28th Street and Broadway. Their $100 million investment will include both a 120,000-square-foot, one-stop lifestyle enrichment facility and the first hospital built west of Ninth Street in more than 150 years.

Since the United States Marine Hospital closed in 1933, anyone seeking hospital services in West Louisville had to travel downtown in order to receive care. While 28 blocks may not seem far, it can be a barrier when it comes to accessing care.

“Most of my neighbors don’t have vehicles. They’re old and they don’t want to travel that far,” said Regina. “It’ll be right around the corner. Instead of taking two buses, they can just take one.”

According to the most recent Louisville Metro Health Equity Report, residents in West Louisville have some of the highest rates of death connected to heart disease, cancer and stroke. While someone’s genetic code has an impact on their health status, their ZIP code should not. Norton Healthcare’s new hospital aims to truly change health outcomes and provide access for all residents.

“This event symbolizes our dedication to changing health outcomes to help people live their best lives,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO, Norton Healthcare. “We are working together with health care providers, community members and local leaders to identify key services that will truly benefit the residents of West Louisville. Access to quality health care, prevention and specialty services are vital, and we have to look at innovative approaches to providing care.”

Comprehensive services at the new hospital will include adult and pediatric primary care physician offices, a 24-hour emergency department with 20 inpatient beds, outpatient services and an opportunity for some surgical procedures. Diagnostic services, including cancer screenings, X-rays and CT scans will be available, along with specialty services such as women’s health, cardiology, neurology and endocrinology.

“I’m excited for it. It gives me hope,” said Regina. “The West End needs change. I can’t wait until it happens.”