From idea to reality: Norton West Louisville Hospital leader looks forward to making a difference

On what the community is saying: ‘They’re actually doing this. This is real. They actually heard us.’

Years ago, Norton Healthcare employee Corenza Townsend noticed something big was missing in West Louisville. The area and its residents desperately needed better access to health care. 

“West Louisville is in our backyard, and we hadn’t touched it,” she said. “Norton Healthcare had mobile mammogram units and participated in other events, but we didn’t have a real footprint there.”

Recognizing this disparity, Corenza and another Norton Healthcare employee took a chance by approaching Norton Healthcare’s  president and CEO at a conference in 2017, with a proposal about creating a community health fair in West Louisville.

“At the end of our proposal, we said that we need a hospital in the West End,” Corenza said.

Their pitch planted a seed that ultimately would grow into a new hospital site now beginning to take shape at 28th Street and West Broadway.

“Five years ago, two Norton Healthcare employees came to me with an idea of creating a community event with the dream of one day building a hospital in West Louisville. One of those employees who came forward that day was Corenza Townsend,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare. “She helped to spark a vision that we knew could be transformative for the community.”

The new Norton West Louisville Hospital will be part of the Norton Healthcare Goodwill Opportunity Campus, which is currently under construction in the Parkland neighborhood. The hospital will open in 2024. 

“Russ [Cox] heard us. He took the time to actually look at the issue and had the wherewithal to say, ‘Yes, health equity is an issue. Yes, we’re missing a group of people in our city,’” Corenza said. “I think it speaks heavily toward the purpose of Norton Healthcare as an organization and its leadership.”

Corenza’s role with the new hospital has come full circle; she recently was named chief administrative officer for Norton West Louisville Hospital. After joining Norton Healthcare in 2009 as a licensed practical nurse, she was promoted to a practice manager and regional manager for surgical services. Most recently, she served as director of provider operations for Norton Medical Group. 

“Corenza encompasses all that we were looking for in a leader at Norton West Louisville Hospital,” Russ said. “She lives her life with compassion, determination and a desire to help others, and we know she’ll bring that enthusiasm to this new hospital each day.”

Norton West Louisville Hospital aims to be a resource of preventive care for the community, and making sure the new hospital reflects the community’s needs has been top priority, according to Corenza. More than 4,500 people shared ideas about what will be needed in the new hospital’s services and features, and those ideas have been made part of the hospital’s planning and design. 

Services will include women’s health, mental health, cardiology, orthopedics, and primary care for adults and children, plus a 24-hour emergency department, inpatient care, operating rooms and imaging technology. The hospital will have a centralized area for patient check-in, a retail pharmacy and a community room.

According to Corenza, she’s already experienced a positive reaction in West Louisville to the plans for the hospital and its potential to improve health outcomes and offer hope. 

“The voice of the community is like, ‘They’re actually doing this. This is real. They actually heard us,’” she said. “That makes a difference. People are excited. There’s ownership in that.”

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