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100th Anniversary

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is proud to celebrate its centennial later this year. We trace our beginnings to May 1919, when a group of physicians received a charter from the State of Tennessee for a new hospital to be built on the site of the Civil War Battle of Fort Sanders. Construction of the hospital began and the doors were opened to its first patients on Feb. 23, 1920.

One hundred years of providing care is a remarkable success, and we are eager to recognize our accomplishments with both staff and the community. We will kick-off our 100th anniversary celebration in late 2019 and will continue our festivities into 2020 to align with the anniversary of when the hospital first opened its doors.

Fort Sanders Regional 100th Anniversary Kick-Off


Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center History

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, located in downtown Knoxville, traces its beginnings to May 29, 1919, when a charter was received for a new hospital to be built on the site of the Civil War Battle of Fort Sanders. As construction proceeded on Fort Sanders Hospital, cannon balls and Indian relics were found on the building site. That same year, an affiliated school of nursing accepted its first students.

In 1954 the hospital’s management was assumed by Knoxville Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church U.S., and the name was changed to Fort Sanders Presbyterian Hospital. The relationship remained until 1979 when an organizational restructuring changed the name of the institution to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center which included the hospital, several clinical specialty programs, the School of Nursing and the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center (opened in 1978 and named in honor of actress Patricia Neal, a Knoxville native and survivor of three massive strokes).

During its “growing years,” Fort Sanders hospital became a comprehensive facility that offered the community some important “firsts” – in the 1920s, the first ambulance service in the area, and in the 1940s, the first private hospital to have the new “wonder drug” penicillin available. In the 1970s, Fort Sanders began the first hospice in Tennessee and obtained the first linear accelerator in the area for cancer treatment.

In 1986, employees and the community mounted a fund raising drive for the construction of the Thompson Cancer Survival Center, an outpatient cancer treatment center.

Today, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is a 541-bed regional referral center for neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, oncology, cardiology, obstetrics and rehabilitation medicine. The hospital offers a variety of specialized services such as one-day surgery, bariatric services, electrodiagnostics and a sleep disorders center.

Fort Sanders Through The Years

1919

May 29, 1919

The hospital is chartered and to be named Fort Sanders Hospital because it was built on the site of the Battle of Fort Sanders during the Civil War.

May 29, 1919 – The hospital is chartered and to be named Fort Sanders Hospital because it was built on the site of the Battle of Fort Sanders during the Civil War.


December, 1919

The Fort Sanders School of Nursing is established. Twelve young women formed the first student body. Along with their studies, they were required to make obstetrical gowns, hem sheets and curtains, draperies, prepare linens for surgery and make their uniforms in time for the hospital to open in 1920.

December, 1919 – The Fort Sanders School of Nursing is established. Twelve young women formed the first student body. Along with their studies, they were required to make obstetrical gowns, hem sheets and curtains, draperies, prepare linens for surgery and make their uniforms in time for the hospital to open in 1920.

1920

February 23, 1920

Hospital opens its doors to first patients.

February 23, 1920 – Hospital opens its doors to first patients.


February 24, 1920

First baby is born and named Sanders Keith, in honor of the occasion.

February 24, 1920 – First baby is born and named Sanders Keith, in honor of the occasion.


Winter 1920

The first ambulance for the hospital is purchased and Superintendent Mauney served as the first ambulance driver.

Winter 1920 – The first ambulance for the hospital is purchased and Superintendent Mauney served as the first ambulance driver

1924

Fort Sanders had the first incubator for babies in Knoxville.

1930

The hospital was approved by the American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association, only the ninth hospital in Tennessee to meet the requirements for this approval.

The hospital was approved by the American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association, only the ninth hospital in Tennessee to meet the requirements for this approval.

1933

Hospital’s first portable X-ray is purchased for use with patients who were unable to be moved.

1937

Work on a new 11-bed cancer unit began and a new clinical lab opened.

A new shock proof X-ray was installed which could scan a patient without shocking the patient or the operator – this was the latest model and the first to be installed in Knoxville.

1944

Hospitals were overcrowded due to World War II, and Fort Sanders became the only private hospital to receive the new and rare penicillin.

1952

First time the hospital is accredited by Joint Commission.

Fort Sanders Regional is recognized by The Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

1954

Fort Sanders Hospital becomes Fort Sanders Presbyterian Hospital after being purchased by a non-profit church group. They announced plans to add 150 beds to the hospital and an air-conditioning program.

1958

First male nursing student accepted to the School of Nursing.

1959

A $2.85 million, seven-story, 216-bed addition to the hospital is built.

1960

The new building known as the “West Wing” is ready for occupancy.

1966

Construction begins on the twelve-story North Wing building.

1969

Construction on the North Wing is completed. The hospital now has a capacity of 535 beds.

1970

The first computer operated X-ray is installed at the hospital. After the hospital acquired the services of the Knoxville Emergency Physicians Group, qualified doctors were now available 24 hours a day for the first time and a new emergency department opened.

1973

Fort Sanders completed the installation of a linear accelerator, a new treatment for cancerous tumors. At the time, the cancer facility was the only one of its kind in the region.

1974

A new CT scanner is installed at the hospital which is the first CT scanner of its kind in Tennessee and the 13th in the United States.

1978

The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center opens, named for the award-winning actress and former Knoxville resident who suffered a series of devastating strokes. The regional medically-oriented center, designed to include diagnostic and treatment areas for both inpatients and outpatients was the first facility of its kind in Tennessee.


Fort Sanders Regional is responsible for the creation of the first hospice program in Tennessee which include an in-hospital team that would assist in the care of terminally ill patients.

1984

The Fellowship Center opens to provide free lodging for families coping with serious illness. 

1985

The opening of the Fort Sanders Comprehensive Breast Center provided total breast health care and was the first of its kind in the region.


Fort Sanders Regional opened a new $1 million heart catheterization laboratory to establish the hospital as a complete, comprehensive cardiology center.

1997

Tissue plasminogen activator or tPA, a revolutionary drug to treat acute ischemic stroke, is first offered to patients.

2005

Fort Sanders Regional is one of the first area hospitals to offer robotically assisted surgery.


The first embolectomy performed for stroke treatment at Fort Sanders Regional by Dr. Keith Woodward.

2007

Fort Sanders Regional is certified by the Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center.

2010

Fort Sanders Regional opened the Center for Advanced Medicine, an 111,572 square foot addition which houses many physician practices.

2012

Fort Sanders Regional introduced East Tennessee’s first telestroke robot.  The mobile communication platform enable stroke patients to receive consults from neurologists via its video screen.

2013

Fort Sanders Regional is certified by The Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. FSR is only the second facility in the state of Tennessee to receive this designation and the first in our region.

Fort Sanders Regional is recognized by The Joint Commission as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

2018

Fort Sanders Regional announced a $115 million building project that will expand emergency and critical care capacity.


Patient Stories

  • FSRMC in 1920: The Way We Were

    It was Feb. 23, 1920 when Fort Sanders Hospital opened for public inspection the doors of its sparkling new 65-bed hospital. In doing so, it claimed the promise of a bright future even as it emerged from some of the greatest global disasters the world has known. The 1920’s was a decade fraught with contradictions, […]