There likely won’t be any hospital buildings or programs named for John Desmarais – he wanted it that way.
But that doesn’t mean the man who quietly guided Commonwealth Health Corp. and its affiliates, including The Medical Center, won’t have a long-lasting legacy on the medical industry here.
The Medical Center probably wouldn’t be where it is today without his guidance. When Desmarais started here in 1975, it was still a hospital on the hill called the Bowling Green-Warren County Community Hospital. The hospital moved from the hill in 1980 to where it is now and became known as The Medical Center.
Commonwealth Health was formed in 1984 to oversee the hospital’s operation, as well as other ancillary organizations. Commonwealth Health actually has Medical Center campuses in Scottsville and Franklin, is part owner in UrgentCare and is about to acquire Western Kentucky Diagnostic Imaging.
While Desmarais retired in 2010 as president and CEO, some recalled his contributions.
Anna Sue Heller recently wrote a letter to the editor about how Desmarais inspired her father through his grand vision.
“He wanted to elevate health care for Bowling Green, Warren County and surrounding areas. The man was not satisfied with just an adequate hospital, but saw a need for a medical center for the future,” Heller wrote. “Having a vision and making it happen are two different things, but John Desmarais made it happen and he let others in the community share the vision.”
Bowling Green physician Herbert N. Harkleroad recalled his time with Desmarais.
He was a remarkable man with great intellect and business astuteness, Harkleroad wrote.
Even those who took issue at times with Desmarais still admire the contributions he made to the organization, Harkleroad said.
Friend Jim Johnson attended Desmarais’ funeral and said he was struck by Desmarais’ devout faith.
Johnson said there were likely many people who knew little about Desmarais’ accomplishments and he liked it that way.
But his passing is one that should not go without comment.