Helen Keller Hospital Celebrates Anniversary with “100 Years of Heroes” Campaign

Helen Keller Hospital Celebrates Anniversary with “100 Years of Heroes” Campaign

To recognize Helen Keller Hospital for its role in sponsoring our upcoming State of Healthcare Event, we would like to join them in celebrating the hospital’s 100th year of operation. To honor their anniversary, let's take a trip down memory lane to the hospital’s humble beginnings.


Helen Keller Hospital opened its doors in March of 1921 when the city and county governments purchased a former boarding house on 4th Street and opened what was known at the time as Colbert County Hospital.


Six years later, the original hospital was relocated to a new red brick building, complete with three levels, 60 patient beds, a maternity room with a sun porch, two operating rooms, an X-ray room, a lab, and doctors’ and nurses’ rooms.


In 1954, the hospital continued to expand by adding on a three-story wing, raising the bed capacity from 60 to 82. Unfortunately, the new bed capacity was still not enough to fulfill the demand the hospital was suddenly experiencing, forcing them to convert waiting areas into patient rooms. This increased the number of beds to 100. Still, after the completion of this renovation, Helen Keller operated at 101% capacity.


The bed increase did not tie them over for long. In 1960, another addition to the hospital began and raised the bed capacity to 214. Along with the expansion came new facilities for surgery, maternity, emergency, pharmacy, and radiology. The new facility even featured a department of Pathology. Later that year, the Physical Therapy department opened and was furnished by the Muscle Shoals District Service League.


In 1970, further expansion resulted in a new lobby, business office, gift shop, pharmacy, and enlarged laboratory facility. This year, the hospital saw many firsts for the Shoals area, including North Alabama’s first IV therapy team and one of the first outpatient eye surgeries.


Nine years later, Colbert County Hospital officially converted to the name it sports today, Helen Keller Hospital. This name change was done in honor of the great lady of courage, who was born in nearby Tuscumbia. In 1979, the hospital’s 1100 Professional Office Building was completed.


In 1982, a major renovation and construction project added a four-story patient tower to the hospital with 12 CCU and SICU rooms, a new ER, and surgery suites. At this point, Helen Keller Hospital began the area’s first and only hospital-based ambulance service providing non-emergent patient transport and 911 responders.


The hospital again made history in 1987 by becoming the first hospital in the Shoals area to offer labor-delivery-recovery birthing concept, and the first hospital in Colbert County to offer MRI services. Additionally in 1987, the Adult Chemical Dependency and Psychiatric unit was added. The unit was named the Restore Center, but later became The Sullivan Center, named after Annie Sullivan who was Helen Keller’s teacher. 


In 1990, the hospital’s emphasis further shifted to prevention and wellness. With that new initiative came the launch of Ladies First, New Beginnings, Wellcare, KellerMed, and Sleep Disorders Centers, and the opening of a Cardiac Cath lab. The hospital continued to expand that year with its purchase of Red Bay Hospital, a 33 bed facility located in Franklin Hospital.


The 90s continued to be a significant time for Helen Heller with several expansions happening. In 1993, a new physician office building opened that housed over 20 practices. The next year, Keller Wellcare Center opened with Cardiopulmonary, in its new 10,000 square feet location.

In ‘96, the hospital celebrated its 75th anniversary.


The hospital closed out the 20th century with a bang through several advancements in 1999. In March of that year, the newly renovated “Women’s Center” opened with LDRP capabilities and a new nursery and family viewing area opened, which was three times larger than its previous facility. Additionally in ‘99, the ER doubled in size going from 9 beds to an 18 bed capacity with dedicated trauma rooms equipped with in-room x-ray capabilities. In July, the newly renovated  Day Patient Center opened with the capability to perform over 2,300 procedures on an outpatient basis.


Ten years later in 2009, the Keller Outpatient Surgery Pavilion opened. The next year, the DaVinci Surgery Robot was purchased, and the Keller Imaging Center opened.


In 2014, the hospital signed a 40-year lease with the Huntsville Hospital Health System.


Most recently, ER Renovations in 2019 provided the hospital with 4 additional rooms to total an emergency bed capacity of 22, and a new waiting room. 2019 also provided the hospital with the opening of its Wound Care center, complete with 2 hyperbaric chambers, the purchase of a Mako orthopedic robot, a renovation in Labor and Delivery, and the addition of the Keller Wall in the hospital lobby.


Since its opening 100 years ago, Helen Keller Hospital has made a significant impact on the Shoals community. The hospital will be hosting several celebratory events this year to honor its anniversary. Stay tuned to hear about what events are on their way!

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