At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.



I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.



I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.


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Hope Cafeteria provides three meals daily to those housed at the emergency shelter, the Don and Kathy Jacobs House, as well as those in the community in need. Four hundred and fifty meals daily are served.

Dr. Privett’s benevolent philanthropy and medical leadership have led to the current Hope Center as a central part of Lexington’s service to the homeless, addicted, and mentally ill populations. Currently the Hope Center also operates the Jail Recovery Program for addicts who have been incarcerated in Lexington.

Another project that has benefitted from Dr. Privett’s involvement is the One Parent Scholar House on Horseman’s Lane in Lexington, near Red Mile Road. This is a community program for single parents who are full-time students in a college educational program. The primary purpose of the program is to help single parents and their young children develop the educational and family life skills needed to achieve self-sufficiency. Single parents can more easily attend to their college studies, knowing their children are safe in an accredited daycare program. The Hope Center board oversees this program and provides philanthropy and administrative support to it.

In addition to his Hope Center duties, Dr. Privett served five years on the board of Recovery Kentucky. Recovery Kentucky was created to help Kentuckians recover from substance abuse, which often leads to chronic homelessness. There are 13 Recovery Kentucky centers across the Commonwealth that range geographically from Paducah to Hindman. These centers provide housing and recovery services for up to 2,000 Kentuckians simultaneously across the state. To build one of these centers, the State of Kentucky requires the selected city to provide the land, an active board, and a mission of commitment to the specialized housing and programs therein.

Dr. Privett has always had a special place in his heart for music. When Dr. Everett McCorvey came to the University of Kentucky in 1991 to join the University of Kentucky Music Department, while directing its opera studies program, he recruited Dr. Privett to financially assist with developing the Lexington Opera Company. Later, Dr. Privett assisted Dr. McCorvey to develop the “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” program presented yearly in Lexington. Dr. Privett remains an emeritus member of Opera Lexington, formerly Lexington Opera Company, and he remains an active donor. He has been a long-time donor to the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra and the UK Chorale Program.

Among his many achievements, George serves on the Board of Trustees of Centre College, and he has previously served on advisory boards of the Florence Crittenden Home in Lexington, and as an elder at Maxwell Street Presbyterian Church. Dr. Privett and his wife received the UK Community Service Award in 2012. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Kentucky Music Education Association. In 2008, George was given the Lauren K. Weinberg Humanitarian Award by the Kentucky Conference for Community Justice.

Dr. Privett’s life has been a sterling example of practicing medicine for the benefit of the citizens of Kentucky while at the same time maintaining a life of great service and philanthropy to the homeless, addicted, and mentally ill. On the lighter side, he has helped advance opera, chorale music, and orchestral music in our community. He is to be admired for his life successes and the immeasurable social benefits, beyond medical practice, he has provided to the Lexington community.

Dr. Privett has practiced medicine in Lexington since 1973. After finishing his residency, he spent two years in the United States Army from 1971 to 1973 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He returned to Lexington thereafter to begin his neurology practice. He practiced clinical neurology for 15 years, from 1973 until about 1988. In 1988, he developed the Lexington Diagnostic Center shortly after MRI equipment was introduced into the United States. He continued there as Owner/ Medical Director until he sold his building, equipment, and practice in 2017. Dr. Privett has devoted his life outside neurology to philanthropy and board leadership in Lexington.

During the 1980s, affordable low-income housing units disappeared and poverty expanded, which increased homelessness nationally and locally. In Lexington, the Fayette Urban County Government, formed the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, chaired by Lexington social advocate Debra Hensley. This task force issued a report in October 1990 and called for the establishment of a 24-hour comprehensive service facility. Operating in Lexington at that time were the Community Kitchen and the Horizon Center. These two centers were merged into one facility and named the Hope Center. Cecil Dunn, the current Executive Director of the Hope Center, contacted George Privett MD and asked him to be on the board. He agreed, and Dr. Privett remains on the board of the Hope Center to this day. The Hope Center, started as an emergency food shelter, but it was used significantly by addicts and alcoholics, and Dr. Privett was instrumental in leading the


Hope Center to begin a recovery center for these individuals using a modified 12-step program.

Dr. Privett gave the lead donation to build the current building which opened in 2008. Later, Don and Kathy Jacobs of Lexington helped build a cafeteria directly across the street from the new building. Currently, the Hope Center has expanded to include the Women’s Center on Versailles Road. Dr. Privett has joined the Hope Center Foundation board as well.

In my recent interview of Dr. Privett, he related to me that currently, the Hope Center admits about 500 persons who sleep there each night. The Recovery Center for Men opened in March 2007, and in May 2008, the George Privett Recovery Center was opened. In 2009, again in part with Dr. Privett’s leadership, the Barbara H. Rouse Apartments, a 44-unit building, next to the Ball-Quantrell Jones Center for Women, opened in November 2010. This facility provides drug-free and alcohol-free permanent housing to women in recovery and provides an atmosphere that supports their continued sobriety. In 2012, again with support in part from Dr. Privett, the Don and Kathy Jacobs House was opened, a 154-bed facility that houses men learning to overcome addiction, mental health issues, employability deficits, and other challenges. The Jacob’s


Robert P. Granacher, Jr., MD, MBA practices clinical and forensic neuropsychiaty in Lexington and Mt. Vernon, KY. He is a noted scientific author and past president of the Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association. He is currently president-elect of the Lexington Medical Society and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.