History and Timeline

In 1978 in Lexington, a small group of healthcare professionals and lay persons sensitive to the needs of the terminally ill, formed a Hospice program, Community Hospice of Lexington. This group recognized that terminal illness and the time of dying brings a person closer to one's most intimate concerns. They saw that hospitals and nursing homes allowed little dignity and intimacy to those who had but a short time to live. Beginning as a small-scale volunteer effort, that movement has grown into a major healthcare provider in the Bluegrass area. Demand for home-based care through Hospice has expanded tremendously since those early years.



A small group of individuals from the community considers establishing a hospice in the Lexington area. Committees are formed to deal with problems of home care and the terminally ill.


Community Hospice of Lexington is formed by a group of volunteers with involvement from the university of Kentucky Medical Center and the VA. The program is a part of the McDowell Cancer Center. Dr. John Cronin is the program’s first Medical Director.


Community Hospice of Lexington separates from the McDowell Cancer Center and is incorporated as an independent non-profit agency, expanding to serve other than just cancer patients.


Gretchen Brown becomes the executive director.


The National Medicare System agrees to pay for hospice claims. Community Hospice of Lexington moves to Nicholasville Road.


A new name, Hospice of the Bluegrass℠, is chosen. The service area is expanded to include Woodford and Scott counties. Kentucky becomes the first state to add hospice care as a Medicaid service.


HOB℠ staff totals 25 with a volunteer pool of 143. It is necessary to expand into a neighboring house on Nicholasville Road. Hospice also increases its service area and establishes a branch office in Franklin County.


Bourbon County is added to the service area.


The service area is expanded to Anderson County.


HOB℠ receives the lead gift from Mrs. Sara Kaufmann for a new building to be named the Maurice Kaufmann Center.


Harrison and Nicholas Counties are added to the service area.


The Maurice Kaufmann Center is officially dedicated.


HOB℠ more than doubles its service area by opening two regional offices. After merging with Mountain Community Hospice in Hazard, and establishing Hospice of Northern Kentucky in Ft. Thomas. Hospice establishes the Sara Kaufmann Society to recognize planned gift donations.


HOB℠ opens the Hospice Care Center, a 12-bed inpatient unit located at Saint Joseph Hospital. The unit is only the third in the state of its kind. Dr. Terry Gutgsell is hired as the first full-time medical director for Hospice. Dr. Gutgsell works with the volunteer medical associates to oversee patient care plans, and serves as medical director for the Hospice Care Center.


Recognizing the need for at-home care for terminally ill children, HOB℠ establishes Daniel’s Care, a pediatric team. The team is comprised of staff with specialized training to address the unique needs of pediatric patients. Daniel’s Care was made possible through a grant from the Daniel Pitino Foundation.


Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ and Jessamine County Hospice merge; the service area now covers 21 counties. Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ Foundation is established to continue supplemental Hospice programs and to ensure preservation of the high level of quality care. HOB℠ attains accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).


Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ and Dr. Terence Gutgsell open the Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass℠ (PCCB) in Lexington, the first private practice of palliative medicine. Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass℠ also achieved accreditation from JCAHO after an on-site survey.

Hospice of the Bluegras℠s and Mountain Heritage Hospice, based in Harlan, merge to increase the service area to 23 counties. HOB℠ becomes the first hospice in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to receive accreditation through the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) for offering units of clinical pastoral education.


HOB℠ develops Hospice Management Services, a limited liability company that manages hospice programs.


The new building for the Bluegrass Center for Grief Education and Counseling is completed. The Hospice Care Center (HCC) expands to a 17-bed unit.


Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ begins a new endeavor with Extra Care, a service that provides private duty care for homebound clients. The services include sitters, nursing assistants, nursing care, and homemaking assistance. The average daily census tops 700.


HOB℠ celebrates its 25th anniversary of care in Fayette County. Hospice receives a $750,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish the Palliative Care Leadership Center.


Hospice of Northern Kentucky opens the Hospice Unit of Northern Kentucky, a 7-bed inpatient unit at St. Luke East.


Work begins on a new building for the Hospice of the Bluegrass’℠ Cynthiana Office. The Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ Patient Census reaches over 800 served for June 2005, and continues to be 800-plus each month through the rest of the year.


Cynthiana office moves into new building.


Durable Medical Equipment moves in-house. Northern Kentucky Office moved to a larger facility.


Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ celebrates its 30th Anniversary. Work begins on a new office and inpatient unit in Hazard. HOB℠ expands its services area to include 32 counties with addition of 9 new southeastern Kentucky counties. New offices opened in Corbin (Mountain Heritage) and Pikeville (Mountain Rivers).


The Vision, Mission and Core Values updated. CPE program receives its 10 year reaccreditation. Hospice of the Bluegrass℠, with sponsorship from UK, was tapped by ACGME as one of 48 accredited programs to train doctors in new subspecialty, Hospice and Palliative Medicine.


UK Hospice and UK HealthCare teamed to create a new end-of-life care program. The pediatric program added Daniel’s Care Palliative Care (DCPC) to its continuum of service. Lexington Clinical Staff, Extra Care, the Department of Medicine and Pharmacy moved to a new office on Member’s Way in Lexington.


Greg and Noreen Wells gave the lead gift for the new Greg and Noreen Wells Hospice Care Center which opened in Hazard. New offices opened in Frankfort – the campus includes the Green–Meyer Center and the adjacent Community Building.


Developed Kentucky Appalachian Transitions Services (KATS) project. Transitioned Central & Northern Kentucky Pharmacy to in-house pharmacy in Hazard.


Liz Fowler was hired as the next President/CEO following Gretchen Brown’s retirement after 32 years in the role. Baptist Health Corbin and the Palliative Care Center joined forces to provide palliative options to Baptist Health patients in that region. CMS extended KATS for an additional year


Hospice of the Bluegrass℠ became also known as Bluegrass Care Navigators℠ to reflect the growing number of services we offer. Our service line names were also updated:

  • Bluegrass Extra Care℠ replaced Extra Care Private Duty
  • Bluegrass Transitional Care℠ replaced Kentucky Appalachian Transitions Services (KATS)
  • Bluegrass Palliative Care℠ replaced Palliative Care Center of the Bluegrass (PCCB)
  • Bluegrass Hospice Care℠ replaced Hospice of the Bluegrass
  • Bluegrass Grief Care℠ replaces Hospice Bereavement Service