Covington-Kenton County Tuberculosis Sanatorium

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Covington-Kenton County Tuberculosis Sanatorium
Opened 1951
Closed 1979
Current Status Preserved
Building Style Single Building
Location Covington, KY
Alternate Names
  • NorthKey Community Care Children’s Intensive Services Hospital


In 1948, the building of a new hospital was finally made possible when voters approved a $400,000 bond and the state of Kentucky contributed $150,000. Federal funds in the amount of $200,000 were also granted under the Hill-Burton Act. The project was started in 1949 and finished in 1951. Dedication of the Covington-Kenton County Tuberculosis Sanatorium took place on April 16,1951. The first 17 patients were admitted to the facility on the same day, being transferred from the Pest House across the street which had been treating TB patients since 1912. The new hospital, constructed on what was then named Sanatorium Drive,was the dream of many, including Dr. Charles J. Farrell, who became the facility’s first medical superintendent and who held that position for 25 of the 28 years the hospital remained open. Sanatorium Road would later be named Farrell Drive in his honor. The hospital had four floors. Located in the large basement area were the engineering department, laundry, and morgue.

The first floor contained the admitting department, administrator’s offices, the supervisor of nurses’ office, Dr. Farrell’s office, and the X-Ray department. Also on the first floor was a huge modern kitchen, food storage area, large cafeteria, and meeting room. The second floor was used for patients, specifically the women and children. The second floor also housed a large surgical room, dental laboratory, and nurses’ lounge. There were two large bathrooms for patients, one at each end of the long hallway. A small kitchen and dishwasher was also contained on the second floor where patients’ dishes were cleaned and sanitized after each meal. There was also a recreation area at the end of the hallway, for those patients who were allowed out of bed. The third floor, similar to the set-up of the second floor, was used for the men and teenage boys. Surgery was an option for treatment of many, especially during the first 10 years and before better medication was developed. Removal of a lung was commonplace. Without surgery, bed confinements were as long as five years. Dr. Marc J. Reardon performed most of the surgeries at the hospital, assisted by surgical nurse, Faye Fogle. These operations began at the Sanatorium on June 6, 1951. All patients, however, were not candidates for surgery, as many had the disease in only a small part of their bodies. Bed rest and medication worked for many of them. Since some patients were required to stay for years, many turned to crafts such as painting, leatherwork, crocheting and other needlework to pass their time.

With better medications, there were fewer and fewer cases of tuberculosis reported in Kenton County by the mid 1970s. In 1976, all tuberculosis patients were moved to the second floor of the Sanatorium and the third floor was remodeled and converted into a mental health and comprehensive care facility. The Covington-Kenton County Tuberculosis Sanatorium finally closed its doors in the latter part of 1979, at which time the entire facility was converted to mental heath care. Today, the building has been transformed into the NorthKey Community Care’s Children’s Intensive Services Hospital, serving children with serious mental health issues.