Our Lady of the Lake Celebrates 95 Years of Ministry

Driven by a call to serve, the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady opened the doors of Our Lady of the Lake Sanitarium to the city of Baton Rouge 95 years ago.

“While Our Lady of the Lake has grown from a community hospital to a nationally recognized academic medical center, our mission to serve those most in need has remained the same,” said K. Scott Wester, president and CEO of Our Lady of the Lake. “Guided by our Sisters’ faith and devotion to service, our entire team carries on their legacy to be the Spirit of Healing for our community.”

"Our mission to care for those most in need is what has driven every physician and clinician that has practiced at Our Lady of the Lake over the last 95 years," said Dr. Steven Gremillion, chief medical officer at Our Lady of the Lake. "It's an honor to practice at a medical center with such a deep heritage that values clinical leadership, academic medicine and exceptional patient experiences."

In 1921, Baton Rouge was a small river town with nearly 22,000 residents who needed a hospital. Mother de Bethanie Crowley of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady was invited down from St. Francis Sanitarium in Monroe for a driving tour of downtown Baton Rouge. As their car approached the old Louisiana State University campus and adjacent university lake, Mother de Bethanie ordered the car to stop.

As Mother de Bethanie picked her way through a mule yard toward a briar patch at the back of the property, the rest of the touring passengers thought the old sugar mill looked like a city dump. However, she envisioned something different—a four-story brick hospital named Our Lady of the Lake Sanitarium.

The hospital was built on the 17-acre site and opened on Nov. 4, 1923.

Following the Sisters’ long-term thinking and vision for growth, Our Lady of the Lake was relocated to its current campus on Essen Lane in 1978. In keeping with that tradition, the Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is set to open in October of 2019.