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Fort Sanders Regional History

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

Fort Sanders Health System

In the 1980’s and 90’s Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center began to respond to changes in the healthcare environment by affiliating with other organizations to develop a coordinated system of care. It entered a lease agreement to operate Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center (now known as LeConte Medical Center) and its affiliated nursing home in 1981.

In 1984 hospital officials restructured the organization to create a parent company named Fort Sanders Alliance.

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. In 1987, Fort Sanders West, an outpatient medical mall including physician’s offices, retail stores, a fitness center and child care facility, was begun.

Loudon County Hospital Joined the system in 1989 and has recently been rebuilt as Fort Loudoun Medical Center; and in 1990 Fort Sanders acquired HCA Parkwest Medical Center, which changed from a for-profit organization to a not-for-profit affiliate, Parkwest Medical Center. In 1992 the health system began an affiliation process with Peninsula, a division of Parkwest Medical Center in the area of behavioral services, later assuming full ownership.

Covenant Health

In 1996, Fort Sanders Health System and MMC HealthCare System (headquartered in Oak Ridge) consolidated and formed a new organization, Covenant Health, with an emphasis on building healthy communities and delivering quality health care to the people of East Tennessee.

In January 1998 a new long-term acute care hospital was located at FSRMC. Select Specialty leases space within the hospital to care for patients with complex medical problems who require intensive care. (36-beds) 

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center logoToday, 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, electrodiagnostics, a sleep disorders center, a diabetes management center, prenatal education, and sports medicine.