In the middle of the 1800s, night air was thought to be tainted and harmful; people closed their windows to keep it out. Diets were high in sugars and fats, physicians encouraged smoking because it supposedly strengthened the lungs, and patients had blood drained as a cure for illness. Sunlight and bathing were both considered hazardous.

The Seventh-day Adventists, guided by founding members James and Ellen White, questioned the common assumptions about health and hygiene. They even supported a student through medical school to help them develop a new approach to healthcare. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg–who later founded the cereal company–became a world-renowned pioneer in surgical procedures. More importantly, his research showed that natural remedies of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, rest, pure water, a spiritual connection and good nutrition were important factors in improving health and preventing disease.

In 1866, church members established the Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, which later became known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The sick and the needy, as well as the rich and the famous–Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, J.C. Penney, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and many others–came to the Sanitarium to benefit from the new perspective on healthcare.

The success of the health center in Battle Creek–and a widespread craving for the healing therapies found there–launched a healthcare organization that could not be confined to a single location. New sites began to take root around the country, and in 1908 the healing touch of Adventist healthcare providers reached into Central Florida.