It was said of Jesus that he went about doing good. In fact, even a superficial scanning of the synoptic gospels makes clear that the good was largely healing the hopeless in that time before modern scientific medicine. His miracles attracted crowds to hear his teaching and preaching, but he didn’t heal solely to draw crowds. He healed to meet desperate needs.

History and Rationale

It was said of Jesus that he went about doing good. In fact, even a superficial scanning of the synoptic gospels makes clear that the good was largely healing the hopeless in that time before modern scientific medicine. His miracles attracted crowds to hear his teaching and preaching, but he didn’t heal solely to draw crowds. He healed to meet desperate needs.

The parable of the Good Samaritan applied now would have to recognize that the medical assets [hospitals etc.] and their costs exceed the financial ability of individuals and churches--requiring that they be socialized [aggregated, pooled, shared among the population].

Muskogee

Only two years after the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma [BGCO] was formed the Oklahoma Baptist Hospital Association [OBHA] was formed in Muskogee to found a hospital there. They opened a 20-bed facility there in 1909 which they deeded to the BGCO in 1916. In 1919 the hospital was expanded to 80 beds. Good times encouraging them to incur debts of $175,000 by 1930. The Great Depression almost sunk the hospital, nevertheless by 1943 all debt was paid .Ties to the BGCO ended in 1962.

Miami

The second Baptist-affiliated hospital was built by local citizens and opened in 1919. It was in the heart of the lead and zinc mining region now the center of a controversial Superfund clean up site that then brought it a disproportionately high emergency room load. Today, they have a Level IV Trauma Center many of their patients brought from nearby Turner Turnpike. It is an affiliate within the Integris system.

Enid

Enid Has always had both Catholic and Baptist Hospitals, the latter founded by Dr. Frederick Auld Hudson in 1914 and the former, Enid Springs Sanitarium and Bath in 1915—both at their present locations. Laymen might not realize when founded during the time of pre-scientific medicine physicians viewed themselves as competing with each other. Back then, physicians had very different medical educations depending on their age, consequently their expertise varied widely causing enduring jealousies and rivalries within medical staffs. That and the then coolness between Baptists and Catholics created two physician communities and hospitals that endure to this day. I’m, sure these professional communities today get along fine though their practices remain largely separated. St. Mary’s is an affiliate of a Catholic order in Wichita and Bass Baptist Health Center is affiliated with Integris Baptist in OKC.

Stillwater

The City of Stillwater opened a 40-bed facility in 1939 and expanded it to 85 beds in 1950. From 1939 to 1952 the City leased it to a Catholic order in Wichita. In 1952 the City leased it to the BGCO for 25-years as Stillwater Municipal Hospital. The lease was terminated early in 1969 and renewed with a national proprietary hospital organization that promised to build a new facility. From 1959-62 I was Assistant Administrator of SMH.

Integris Baptist OKC

Of course the flagship Oklahoma Baptist Hospital is Baptist Medical Center in OKC mainly developed to its present size and scope of operations by Wanette native and OBU graduate, James L. [Jay] Henry—Administrator 1961-86.

Passage of legislation establishing Medicare and Medicaid [M&M] forced all hospitals to upgrade their operations to qualify for accreditation by the Joint Commission on Hospital

Accreditation in order to quality for M&M which began July 1, 1966. That massive intrusion of the federal government into hospital operations and financing triggered fears among many Baptist lay persons of church-state separation. It also mandated professionally- prepared hospital executives easing out the pastors who had been running rural Baptist hospitals.

“The uneasiness of owning hospitals was forced to the forefront on Sept.16, 1977 with a headline on the front page of the OKC Times-“City Is Sex Change Center.” Reporters had discovered that for a decade Baptist Medical Center had been one of the largest centers for sex change operations west of the Mississippi River. …The public outcry was long and loud.” [1]

The real import of the event was the BGCO Board countermanded the decision of the BMC Board to support the medical staff’s decision. Henry said, “It was apparent that the hospital’s governing board was not in control….It was time for the BGCO to divest itself of the hospital.” Separation occurred in 1978 with a new non-profit Oklahoma Healthcare Corporation [OHCC.] In 1994 OHC created a statewide network of 14 affiliated hospitals located in Blackwell, Bristow, Drumright, Enid, Grove, Guthrie, Guymon, Hugo, Madill, Miami, Pawnee, Pryor, Stroud, and Watonga. Simultaneously BMC created a telemedicine network including hospitals in Duncan, Altus, Enid, Clinton, El Reno, and Chickasha.

Baptist hospital mirror trends in the industry of aggregating the resources of small, rural hospitals and urban medical centers. Many of the hospitals named here were begun by individual Baptists, but in general not by Baptist churches or the BGCO—reflecting the historic trend in secularizing Biblical healing ministry.

[1] Thanks to Rachel Hawkins, Special Collections Librarian, OBU. who provided: Gaskin, J.M., Baptist Milestones in Oklahoma, 1966; Baxter, W. Eugene, The Rural Hospital Ministry of Oklahoma Baptists, 2005.

[2] Burke, Bob, “Excellence on the Hill: The History of Integris Baptist Medical Center, 2016, p42,72.