The Origin and Early Years of Children's Hospital Colorado

Honoring the People Who Created What We've Inherited

In 1897, the Babies Summer Hospital, a summer tent hospital for babies and toddlers, was established by Minnie C.T. Love, MD, at 18th and Gaylord in Denver (about a block west of City Park and six blocks east of St. Joseph's Hospital). The tent hospital operated during the summers of 1897 and 1898, and was precursor of Children's Hospital, which opened in 1910.

Dr. Love had the support of some of Denver's prominent women and local newspapers. Six medical staff and volunteer nurses treated up to fifty children under the age of five. Fresh air and sunshine, widely thought to be therapeutic at the time, were key ingredients in the tent hospital's treatment regimen.

The utility companies donated water and electricity, the Denver Women's Club made bedding from donated supplies, and St. Barnabas Church donated nightgowns for the babies.

The Children's Hospital at 22nd and Downing

On February 17, 1910, the Children's Hospital and Training School for Nurses opened its "well equipped institution with a capacity of 30 beds" at 2221 Downing Street, in the building where the Denver Maternity and Women's Hospital had been established in 1902.

Lawrence C. Phipps, a former vice president of Carnegie Steel, had donated $5,000 to the children's hospital building fund, and Thomas Patterson, publisher of the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Times, had donated $1,000.

The March 1910 issue of Colorado Medicine reported that "The hospital has been daintily furnished by private donations secured by the efforts of prominent Denver ladies and is now ready for the reception of patients. The staff includes many of the best men in Denver."

Children's Hospital was understandably selective in its admissions policies. Children with chronic diseases were not accepted unless a physician thought that treatment might help, and children with contagious diseases were sent to Steele Memorial Hospital. These policies helped manage both the hospital's healing environment and cash flow.

Oca Cushman, RN — who had been night supervisor of nurses at St. Luke's Hospital — was the first superintendent of Children's Hospital, and remained with the hospital for forty-five years. Marguerite Bullene, RN, was director of nurses and superintendent of the nursing school.

By the end of 1911, the medical and surgical staff at Children's Hospital included Laura L. Liebhardt, MD, Eleanor Lawney, MD, George B. Packard, Jr., MD, Leonard W. Ely, MD, and H.W. Wilcox, MD.

The Children's Hospital at 19th and Downing

Children's Hospital Denver 1947 On February 12, 1917, Children's Hospital moved from 22nd and Downing to its new 135-bed facility at 19th and Downing in Denver, where it remained for ninety years.

On opening day, nurses carried 30 children from the old building at 2221 Downing Street to the new hospital, which included a Kindergarten School that had been financed by Mrs. Lawrence Phipps. Lawrence C. Phipps would be a US Senator from Colorado from March 1919 until March 1931. Senator and Mrs. Phipps were generous, long-time supporters of Children's Hospital.

On September 29, 2007, the new Children's Hospital opened on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado.

Children's Hospital Colorado

In 2011 the name was changed from "The Children's Hospital" to "Children's Hospital Colorado."

Contact book [at] coloradohealthcarehistory [dot] com or @ColoradoHealth on Twitter with additions, corrections, suggestions, or for more information. Thank you!

Bibliography

John W. Amesse, MD: History of The Children's Hospital of Denver, 1910-1947. Denver: The Children's Hospital Association, 1947. The photographs on this page of the original 1910 Children's Hospital and the hospital in 1947 are from the book by Dr. Amesse.

Elizabeth Costello, Michelle Fulcher, and Sandy Graham: Let It Be Us: A History of Children's Hospital Colorado. Aurora, Colorado: Children's Hospital Colorado, 2011.

Rickey Hendricks and Mark S. Foster: For a Child's Sake: History of The Children's Hospital, Denver, Colorado, 1910-1990. Niwot, Colorado: University of Colorado Press, 1994.

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