Ask any Northern Kentuckian about St. E, and chances are good he or she won’t think you’re talking about St. Edward, St. Eugene or St. Elmo

“St. E” is short for St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the network of hospitals and physicians that dominates the Northern Kentucky wellness landscape.

Sponsored by the Diocese of Covington, St. Elizabeth operates six major facilities in Edgewood, Florence, Fort Thomas, Covington, Falmouth and Williamstown – the only six acute-care hospitals in Northern Kentucky – as well as dozens of satellite facilities, providing everything from cardiac diagnostics to imaging, from occupational and physical therapy to sports medicine.

St. Elizabeth says it delivers 4,500 babies in a year, discharges 50,000 patients and sees 200,000 patients come through its emergency rooms.

“It really goes without saying that they are a leader, not only in this region but in the state and the nation,” says Steve Stevens, president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

What would become a healthcare giant started in a converted building on Covington’s Seventh Street, founded in 1861 to better care for the city’s poor. It has steadily expanded its reach, adding the Edgewood facility in 1978 and assuming control of facilities in Falmouth in 1980 and Williamstown in Grant County in 1990.

In 2008, the Florence and Fort Thomas locations, the former St. Luke Hospital West and St. Luke Hospital East, were assimilated under the St. Elizabeth name. Construction of the new Covington ambulatory care center, which opened in 2009, brought St. Elizabeth full circle.

But the initiatives are more than brick and mortar. In 2010, the subsidiary St. Elizabeth Physicians was launched, combining Summit Health Group and PatientFirst to create a network of nearly 250 doctors and 1,100 employees in all.

Nationally renowned Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center operates a pediatric outpatient facility in Crestview Hills as part of a joint venture with St. Elizabeth.

The facility offers lab, radiology and subspecialty services, including allergy and immunology, audiology, cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, physical therapy and sports medicine, among others.

And last fall, St. Elizabeth became the first provider in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to become part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which allows St. Elizabeth physicians to consult electronically with Mayo experts at no cost to their patients.

“This collaboration puts the power and expertise of Mayo Clinic in the hands of the physicians at St. Elizabeth, making it easier for patients with the most complex conditions to get the care they need, close to home,” John S. Dubis, president and CEO of St. Elizabeth, said in a statement.

Among St. Elizabeth’s numerous awards – including being named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals by HealthGrades for five straight years, and six nods as one of the Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals – there’s this: Three times it has been named one of Greater Cincinnati’s Best Places to Work by the Cincinnati Business Courier.

That’s significant, because with some 7,300 employees and associates, including St. Elizabeth Physicians, it’s Northern Kentucky’s largest employer.

“They’re a very high-quality asset that we’re thrilled to have in this region,” Stevens says.