In 1883, Cincinnati Children’s story humbly began when three compassionate women converted a house into a small hospital. Over the years, that growing hospital became home to many firsts and has made medical history many times. Today we stand as one of the world’s premier children’s hospitals. We did it with groundbreaking research and relentless innovation—and always with the kind of compassionate care on which we were founded.
As we build upon our legacy, it’s important to understand where we’ve been, what we’ve overcome and what we’ve accomplished so that Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will be the leader in improving child health.
Between now and our 150th birthday in 2033, we will honor our history and pursue an even greater future by elevating and accelerating our focus on Care, Cure, Community and Culture. In doing so, we will pursue our potential together, so all kids can pursue theirs.
"We will honor our history and pursue an even greater future by elevating and accelerating our focus on Care, Cure, Community and Culture."
These next 10 years will be spent looking ahead to Cincinnati Children’s 150th anniversary and imagining the kind of organization we want to be. We will take lessons from our past and explore future possibilities—Pursuing Our Potential Together so that all kids in our community and all over the world can achieve theirs.
Cincinnati Children’s is internationally known and exploring new frontiers—genetics, proton therapy, bioinformatics, and more. We recommit to safety and mental healthcare for kids. We also target the social determinants of health to lower the infant mortality rate in our region. Ranked as a top-3 children’s hospital for a decade, we aim to take care to the next level with our Clinical Sciences Pavilion (Location T) and the Critical Care Building, which opened in November 2021.
The words “transformation,” “transparency,” and “family-centered” turn the way we deliver care on its ear. Quality is more than a buzzword as we pilot programs throughout the medical center, all designed to improve outcomes and safety. Leadership invests heavily in technology infrastructure to support the work we’re doing. The old 1926 hospital building is demolished, and we add more capacity with a new science building (Location S), hospital (Location A) and Liberty Campus.
Tom Boat, MD, becomes chair of pediatrics and head of the Research Foundation. Jim Anderson, chairman of the Board, becomes president and CEO. The medical center’s mission takes on a global focus to be the leader in child health. With Lee Carter as the new Board chair, the push begins toward quality improvement and safety. Clinical and research programs grow as we add a new hospital tower (Location B) and more outpatient locations.
The medical center continues to expand under Dr. Bill Schubert’s guidance. Ambulatory care takes a leap forward with the opening of Children’s Outpatient North in Mason and construction of the Ambulatory Services building (Location C). The Ronald McDonald House opens, making it easier for families who come from outside the region for their child’s care. The hospital also celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding. There are now approximately 2,000 people on staff.
The theme of this decade is consolidation—bringing all the local pediatric medical institutions together into one entity—Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The idea is to coordinate services and eliminate duplication of effort. The Pavilion (aka Location E) is built to house the affiliates. Passage of the Hamilton County Tax Levy ensures critical support of care for the poor, while the trend grows for more ambulatory services.
Edward Pratt, MD, takes the helm as chair of pediatrics, overseeing an era of tremendous medical advances, especially in the areas of organ transplants, artificial blood products and anesthesiology. Pratt oversees the building of the Institute for Developmental Research, but because of the financial drain of the Vietnam War and the “victory” of the U.S. over Russia with the moon landing, government funding for research begins to decline.
This decade produces scientific discoveries that boost the hospital’s reputation on the world stage and dramatically change the outcome for children everywhere. The spirit of cooperation and exchange of medical knowledge stands in sharp contrast to the Cold War between the U.S. and Russia. The medical and dental staff develops a constitution and bylaws with physicians as officers, and A. Ashley Weech, MD, chair of Pediatrics, brings in more directors of pediatric subspecialties.
Pediatric medicine continues to become more formalized and sophisticated, with the establishment of new subspecialties, e.g., Radiology, Psychiatry, Allergy and Immunology, and the assembly of a research “dream team” that includes Albert Sabin, MD; Fred Silverman, MD; Josef Warkany, MD; Robert Lyon, and more. World War II accelerates new medical discoveries. For the first time, staff use penicillin to treat patients, and the hospital budget goes over $1 million.
Children’s Hospital makes a serious commitment to research, which attracts some of the best and brightest minds to join our faculty. At the same time, William Cooper Procter broadens and clarifies our purpose to include the “care of the sick child, the education of doctors and nurses to meet the needs of children and research for the betterment of mankind.” The culture is one of collaboration—"an atmosphere of cooperation that existed like nowhere else.”
William Cooper Procter becomes president of the Board, championing the idea that Children’s Hospital should be closely aligned with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine—physically and ideologically. He and A. Graeme Mitchell, MD, physician-in chief and B.K. Rachford Professor, are instrumental in the planning and building of the new 200-bed hospital next to the college. Their wisdom and foresight pave the way for the organization to become a global leader in child health.
This decade marks a change in the hospital’s approach to care —from a philosophy of care as comfort to care as medical science. The Flexner Report on medical education, released in 1910, adds to the training requirements for physicians and recommends that hospitals be controlled by medical school faculty. This shift in thinking is critical in preparing us for bigger opportunities and growth.
As the hospital grows, leadership recognizes a need for more nursing staff and better training. There is also increasing concern for what happens to patients after they are sent home, prompting efforts at community outreach.
Hospital leadership continues to expand the organization’s physical space, staff and services, including an outpatient clinic once a week. Benjamin K. Rachford, MD, the first pediatric chair, also promotes the concept to caregivers and trainees that children are not just “little adults.”
During its first 10 years, the Hospital of the Protestant Episcopal Church aims to provide a place where children can receive safe, compassionate care that focuses on the physical and spiritual needs of the child. At the time, hospitals were places where only the poor and very sick went to die. Children were housed alongside adults and exposed to all kinds of diseases and exploitation by older patients.