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Former St. Joseph Hospital administrator dies at age 96

Sister Michael Leo Mullaney helped expand hospital services for 22 years

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Sister Michael Leo Mullaney, a former administrator at St. Joseph Hospital who helped contribute to the enhancement of health care across the state, died Wednesday at the age of 96.

Sister Michael Leo was born in Quincy, Mass. in 1922. In January 1953, she entered the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and selected her father’s name as her religious name.

She graduated from the Bentley College of Accounting and Finance in Boston and later completed a master’s degree in hospital administration from St. Louis University. In 1966, she was appointed administrator at St. Joseph Hospital.

During her time working at St. Joseph Hospital, Sister Michael Leo liquidated the hospital’s $1 million debt, introduced computerization into the hospital offices, put into practice programs initiated by Medicare and Medicaid, and began plans to expand the hospital and services offered.

Under Sister Michael Leo, hospital capacity increased from 285 to 468 beds, making St. Joseph Hospital the largest hospital at the time in Central Kentucky. Sister Michael Leo was responsible for top hospital innovations, including the first physician-staffed emergency room and the first cardiac intensive care unit in Central Kentucky, the first balloon angioplasty program in the state, the first hospital helipad in Lexington, and the first computerized tomography (CT) scan equipment in the state.

“Sister Michael Leo worked tirelessly to bring the best technology to St. Joseph Hospital and the Lexington community,” said Bruce Tassin, market CEO for KentuckyOne Health and president of St. Joseph Hospital. “Her work within the hospital helped enhance health care for the poor, and patients in our community truly benefitted from her dedication and ministry.”

In 1981, Sister Michael Leo was elected chair of the Kentucky Hospital Association, the first woman to hold this position in almost 40 years. In 1987, she received the Kentucky Hospital Association Distinguished Service Award for outstanding service to hospitals in Kentucky. In 1988, Sister Michael Leo was honored by The Bluegrass Chapter of The National Conference of Christian and Jews for outstanding leadership in fostering amity, justice and cooperation among those in Central Kentucky.

Sister Michael Leo served as hospital administrator of St. Joseph Hospital for 22 years before serving as president of The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Healthcare System from 1988-1992, which included St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville, Our Lady of Peace in Louisville, and St. Joseph London, formerly Marymount Hospital. She went on to become a lobbyist for the Kentucky Catholic Conference, a member of the Kentucky Health Policy Board, and director of missions for the Diocese of Lexington.

She has received many awards for her work in health care, including receiving the Wade Mountz Visionary Leader Award in November 2004, given to leaders in Kentucky who have made significant contributions to the enhancement of health care in the state. In 2005, she received the Kentucky Women Remembered award. Her portrait is part of a permanent display of outstanding women that can be found in the West Wing of the Kentucky Capitol.

Sister Michael Leo was living at a Nazareth Home in Louisville.