Reclaiming Jewish Hospital’s History

Serving KentuckyOne Health as Vice President of Mission for its downtown campus, at Jewish Hospital, the University of Louisville Hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center is an amazing opportunity for me to also serve the Louisville Jewish community, and to do what I can to help preserve, celebrate and advance its own revolutionary vision for a healthier Louisville, where the Jewish community is known as a pioneering leader, not only for its own needs, but those of the whole community.

For this reason, I have been delighted to partner with Kathey Golightly Sanders from the Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Foundation to help Jewish Hospital reclaim a piece of its rich and vibrant history. When I first arrived, on the 16th floor of the Rudd Heart and Lung Building, there was a wall of portraits of all of the presidents of Jewish Hospital, except for one very prominent exception: the first female president of the Board of Trustees from 1962-1965, Mrs. Sara Greenstein, or as she preferred to be called: Mrs. Joseph H. Greenstein.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Greenstein left a lasting legacy on the lives of all that she touched, including Dr. Morris Weiss, who recalls her friendship and leadership as an important step in his own professional career as a young cardiologist. He noted that she “built Jewish Hospital into the premier Louisville medical institution. She was elected to President of the Board of Trustees in an era dominated by men – an unprecedented honor and achievement.”

During her tenure as board president, Mrs. Greenstein led efforts to add three more stories to the north wing of the hospital, established the pension program for Jewish Hospital employees, established the open heart surgery team and program, established the relationship with the rehab hospital that would later become Frazier Rehab Institute, opened the first Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in Kentucky, established the first full-time director of teaching services at Jewish Hospital, and perhaps most historically: desegregated patient rooms and medical staff, leading us to be the first hospital in Louisville to be racially integrated.

Many of the reasons that we are so proud of Jewish Hospital can be traced back to her, and earlier this year, we presented to KentuckyOne Health leadership a portrait that the Foundation commissioned to honor this visionary leader in our community, and to reaffirm her historic place in Jewish Hospital’s leadership timeline. We are proud that her granddaughter, Janet Lynch, has given so generously to honor her grandmother’s legacy, helping us to purchase a Chanukah menorah that stands proudly in the center of Abraham Flexner Way during Chanukah, and to renovate the historic chapel that had been dedicated to Janet’s grandfather, Mr. Joseph H. Greenstein, decades earlier.

Being able to honor the legacies of some of the early leaders of the Jewish community, by continuing their commitment to tikkun olam (healing of the world) with the support of our Foundation, is an important way that we seek to ensure that every generation brings us closer to the prophetic ideal described in our Torah when all people will be able to be treated with the reverence and compassion due to one created in the image of G!d.

During her tenure as board president, Mrs. Greenstein reactivated the hospital’s endowment fund, ensuring quality patient care for generations to come. She advocated: “Complacency surely must not be our aim. Feeling satisfied with our past accomplishments – without planning for our future – would be going backward.”

As we honor Mrs. Greenstein, we recall her own call to action: “We must work diligently from this day on, to interest the entire Jewish community in our hospital [that we may all] become ambassadors of good will for our hospital.” My hope is that she is proud of the legacy that we strive to uphold in the work that we continue to do to this very day, through our cutting edge research, excellent patient care and commitment to redesigning health care in such a way that we more effectively serve the most underserved amongst us.

If you would like to learn more about how you, too, can honor the memory of a loved one, or contribute to the sacred work that Jewish Hospital does in our community, please contact me at or go to

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