Our History

The origin of Carilion Clinic can be traced back more than 100 years, to a community in need, and a commitment to meet that need. Today, Carilion is a nationally ranked, integrated health system with a large multi-specialty physician group and seven hospitals, including an academic medical campus and Level 1 trauma center. Carilion is widely regarded as an innovative, early adopter of new technologies and a leader in health care transformation.

In the late 19th century, Roanoke was booming with railroad traffic, heavy manufacturing and commerce, but there was no hospital to treat the growing number of injuries and illnesses. In 1899 the Roanoke Hospital Association formed. A year later, the 30-bed Roanoke Hospital opened to great fanfare at the base of Mill Mountain. 

Renamed Memorial and Crippled Children’s Hospital in 1949, it continued its expansion to meet community needs, adding children’s facilities to address the polio epidemic in the 1950s. The hospital’s name changed to Roanoke Memorial Hospital in 1955. A cancer clinic, imaging, psychiatric and other services soon followed as the hospital grew to become one of the largest in the state. 

Its success and leadership led the Roanoke Hospital Association to form relationships with several other hospitals in the region. These alliances helped hospitals streamline operations and reduce costs as employers and insurance companies began to demand a more managed approach to care. 

In 1987, the Hospital Association announced the merger of Roanoke Memorial Hospital and Community Hospital of the Roanoke Valley, in an effort to further reduce overhead and efficiently address the community’s growing needs. One year later, the growing association of hospitals was renamed “Carilion Health System.” 

During the late 1990s, recognizing the key role of primary care physicians in managing and coordinating patient care, Carilion began an affiliation with a group of independent physician practices across central and western Virginia, envisioning the goal of a fully integrated health care delivery system. 

In 2006, Carilion took another significant step and announced plans to transform into Carilion Clinic, a physician-led accountable medical group with the vision of seamlessly integrated services and quality care coordinated around the needs of the patient. As part of the initiative, the organization launched a multi-year project to implement a single system-wide electronic medical record, added hundreds of physician specialists and restructured primary care practices to focus on prevention and wellness.

To foster additional education and research, in 2007 Carilion Clinic partnered with Virginia Tech to create the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute, which opened in 2010. Eight years later, the medical school was fully integrated, as planned, into Virginia Tech and the research institute renamed the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in recognition of the record $50 million gift to Virginia Tech from the Horace G. Fralin Charitable Trust and Heywood and Cynthia Fralin

Carilion's partnership with Virginia Tech has steadily grown, to include collaboration on entrepreneurship initiatives, athletic programs and scholarships, and economic development.

In another educational partnership, in 2019, Carilion’s Jefferson College of Health Sciences merged with Radford University to form Virginia’s second largest nursing school known as Radford University Carilion.

Also in 2019, Carilion announced a $1 billion capital investment to expand its flagship Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, consolidate outpatient pediatric and adolescent specialty practices, as well as complete improvements at hospitals throughout the system. A $1 million seed gift from Carilion CEO Nancy Howell Agee and her husband, the Honorable G. Steven Agee, jumpstarted plans for a new world-class cancer center.

Now, more than a decade as Carilion Clinic and more than a century after its birth, Carilion remains focused on meeting the needs of the community and staying true to its not-for-profit, community-focused mission.