Lovelace Health System, Inc.

4101 Indian School Road Northeast, Suite 110
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110-3991
Telephone: (505) 727-8000
Toll Free: (800) 808-7363
Web site:

Subsidiary of Ventas, Inc.
Employees: 3,618
Sales: $445 million (2017 est.)
NAICS: 622110 General Medical and Surgical Hospitals

Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Lovelace Health System, Inc., is a major health care organization and one of New Mexico's largest employers. The organization consists of the 263-bed Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque; the Heart Hospital of New Mexico; the 80-bed Lovelace Westside; the Lovelace Women's Hospital, housing 16 labor and delivery rooms, a 53-bed neonatal intensive care unit, and a 41-bed mother-baby unit; the Lovelace UNM Rehabilitation Hospital, providing a wide range of inpatient and outpatient therapy services; and the 27-bed Lovelace Regional Hospital–Roswell, serving residents of Chaves County, New Mexico. The facilities are supported by the Lovelace Medical Group. Its more than 150 physicians and other providers are spread across 26 locations offering about 20 services, including general surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, gastroenterology, gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics. Lovelace Health Systems is a subsidiary of AHS New Mexico Holdings Inc., which is in turn a subsidiary of Ardent Health Partners, LLC, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Ardent is owned by the Chicago real estate investment trust Ventas, Inc. (an affiliate of the private equity firm Equity Group Investments) and members of Ardent's executive management team.


The Lovelace name is linked to Dr. William Randolph Lovelace. Born in a log cabin on a Missouri farm in 1883, he earned a medical degree from St. Louis University Medical School in 1905 and afterward served his internship at St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis. He soon contracted tuberculosis and in 1906 moved to New Mexico to find relief in the area's hot, dry air. Unable to secure a position at an Albuquerque hospital, he worked as a surgeon for Lantry-Sharp Construction Co. and the Santa Fe Railway near Fort Sumner, New Mexico, practicing out of a one-room, tar-paper building. He quickly became acquainted with the life of a frontier doctor. His first patients were a pair of shooting victims.

In 1913 Lovelace moved to Albuquerque, joining the staff at St. Joseph Hospital and Sanatorium while continuing to serve as a surgeon for the Santa Fe Railway. In 1922 he formed a medical partnership with his brother-in-law, Dr. Edgar T. Lassetter, who also came to New Mexico seeking relief from tuberculosis. They were joined a year later by surgeon, Dr. J. Dan Damon, thus establishing the Lovelace Clinic.


Mission: To provide easy access to the highest quality of care through our passion for medicine, innovation, caring and change.

Lovelace never married, but a nephew of the same name, William Randolph “Randy” Lovelace II, followed in his footsteps. The younger Lovelace lived with his uncle during high school, becoming interested in both medicine and aviation. After receiving his MD from Harvard University in 1934, he served residencies at New York's Bellevue Hospital and Minnesota's Mayo Clinic. He was also a member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps Reserve with the rank of flight surgeon. His study of high-altitude flight led to a 1938 request by his superiors to develop an oxygen-mask for high-altitude flight. The work continued into World War II, when Lovelace became an active duty member of the US Army Air Force. Building on a method he created to deliver oxygen to patients more effectively than with an oxygen tent, he codeveloped the BLB (Boothby-Lovelace-Bulbulian) mask, a personal oxygen system for aviators forced to make high-altitude parachute jumps. Without permission, he tested the system while also making his first jump. Upon exiting the bomber at more than 40,000 feet, he was knocked unconscious but managed to survive, successfully testing his portable oxygen and winning the Distinguished Flying Cross for his contribution to military aviation.


Following the war, Randy Lovelace and his wife Mary lost a pair of sons to polio. Grief-stricken, they returned to New Mexico in 1946. At his uncle's urging, Randy Lovelace finally agreed in 1947 to join the expanding specialty clinic, which benefited from the growth of Albuquerque due to the Manhattan Project at nearby Los Alamos and subsequent nuclear weapon testing projects. The clinic now boasted the greatest collection of medical specialists in the entire Southwest. The younger Dr. Lovelace had agreed to join the Lovelace Clinic under the condition that it adopt the Mayo Clinic threefold model of health care, research, and education.

As a result, he and his uncle founded the Lovelace Foundation for Medical Education and Research. It also served as a resource for Randy Lovelace's ongoing research on medical aerospace technology. He was so well respected in the field that in 1958 he was named the chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Special Advisory Committee on Life Science and then played an important role in the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts for the Mercury space program. Testing was conducted at the Lovelace Clinic. Randy Lovelace was appointed NASA's director of space medicine in 1964, but the following year he and his wife were killed in a private airplane accident near Aspen, Colorado. Attending the funeral were all seven of the original Mercury astronauts. The older Dr. Lovelace continued to practice medicine until he suffered a stroke in the fall of 1968. He passed away in December of that year at the age of 85.


Despite the loss of their two charismatic leaders, the Lovelace Clinic and Lovelace Foundation carried on, led by CEO Don Kilgore. In 1969 Albuquerque's Bataan Memorial Methodist Hospital was acquired. Located adjacent to the clinic, it had been build in 1952 by the Methodist Church at the behest of Randy Lovelace. In 1973 the Lovelace organization became involved in managed care with the creation of the Lovelace Health Plan, which was launched with 2,200 members. Two years later, the clinic, foundation, and hospital merged to create the Lovelace Health System.

The Lovelace Health Plan struggled until a professional manager was hired in 1979. The Lovelace Clinic, in the meantime, began expanding its roster of primary care physicians in order to increase the number of patient referrals. To provide better access to patients, Lovelace began opening more conveniently located satellite primary care centers in 1977. This effort, the installation of a management information system, and other projects strained the organization's finances. Moreover, the hospital was quickly becoming outdated and in need of replacement.

William Randolph Lovelace forms a medical partnership.
Lovelace Health System is created.
Ardent Health Services acquires Lovelace Health System.
Ventas becomes new Lovelace owner.
Lovelace opens its largest health care center, in Albuquerque.

Lovelace remained under Cigna's control until 2003, when it was sold for approximately $210 million to Ardent Health Services, based in Nashville, Tennessee. A year earlier, Ardent had acquired St. Joseph Healthcare and now merged it with Lovelace. The Lovelace hospital was subsequently sold and the medical center transferred to the former St. Joseph Hospital located in downtown Albuquerque. In addition, Ardent upgraded another former St. Joseph facility, which became Lovelace Westside Hospital, spending nearly $37.8 million on improvements between 2003 and 2014.


Despite the infusion of Ardent's cash, the former Lovelace and St. Joseph staffs were far from pleased with life under new ownership. About 100 employees were immediately laid off and the organization divided into three units: health plan, hospital, and medical group. According to a September 26, 2005, Albuquerque Journal article by Winthrop Quigley, Ardent “struggled with poor employee morale and a parade of staff defections while trying to create the smooth-running, efficient system it envisioned.” Practitioners chafed under Ardent's management. In 2005, for example. Ardent signed a contract to provide psychiatry services via television to prison inmates across the country. Lovelace doctors refused to, from a remote location, treat inmates with mental health issues, seeing them for only a few minutes at a time, and in 2006 Lovelace's outpatient behavioral health clinic was closed as a result. The physicians in the Lovelace Medical Group had become completely disenchanted with Ardent by this time. Having been separated from the other parts of the former Lovelace structure, the group was losing money. In 2007 the Lovelace physicians were spun off, creating ABQ Health Partners, which continued to serve Lovelace Health System on a contract basis.

Ardent expanded Lovelace Health System on other fronts. It made further improvements to the Westside Hospital and in 2009 opened a new outpatient physical therapy site in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, north of Albuquerque. In 2011 Ardent paid $119 million for the 55-bed Heart Hospital of New Mexico in downtown Albuquerque. It was renamed the Heart Hospital of New Mexico. During this period, Lovelace began discussions with Southwest Medical Associates, a multispecialty medical practice. Subsequently, ABQ Health Partners terminated its contract with Lovelace Health System, and in October 2012 Lovelace acquired Southwest Medical Associates. The two events, according to Lovelace, were coincidental. Also in 2012, in February Lovelace purchased the 26-bed Roswell Regional Hospital and Family Care unit, and in midyear Cigna allowed its contract with Lovelace for health care services to lapse, instead turning to Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

The next year brought further changes to Lovelace. In 2013 it opened a pair of urgent care clinics in Albuquerque with NextCare Holdings, Inc., and sold its 108,000-member insurance operation to Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico. In March 2015 Lovelace reached an agreement to sell the Lovelace Retail Pharmacy Division, which included 11 locations, to the retail drugstore chain Walgreen Co.


In April 2015 a deal was struck that would change the ownership of Lovelace Health Systems again. It was part of a $1.75 billion cash acquisition of Ardent Medical Services and affiliated Ardent Health Services by the Chicago-based Ventas, Inc., a real estate investment trust company that owned senior living and other health care properties in the United States and Canada. The plan called for the Ardent hospital operations to be separated from the real estate operations and sold to a newly created entity owned in part by the management of Ardent Health Services.

Ed Dinger


Lovelace Medical Center; Lovelace Medical Group; Lovelace Women's Hospital.


CHRISTUS Health, Inc.; Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Inc.; UNM Medical Group, Inc.


Greene, Jay. “Leaving Lovelace? Docs Eye Making Medical Group Private.” Modern Healthcare, June 11, 2007, 32.

Moseley, George B., III. Managed Care Strategies: A Physician Practice Desk Reference. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, 1999, 609 p.

Quigley, Winthrop. “Lovelace Buys Southwest Medical.” Albuquerque Journal, October 19, 2012.

———. “Problems Plague New Health System.” Albuquerque Journal, September 26, 2005.

Rayburn, Rosalie. “Lovelace about to Get New Ownership.” Albuquerque Journal, April 7, 2015.

“‘Uncle Doc’ Lovelace Is Dead Here at 85.” Albuquerque Journal, December 5, 1968.