Monday, July 14, 2014

Pediatric Care at Children's Hospital

The history of pediatric care and research at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia ranges from an era when a child's growth and development were of negligible scientific interest, to the modern era which regards children the nation's most precious resource.

In medicine and in life, there is a saying that goes "children are 'not little adults.'"

However, in the United States during the mid-nineteenth century, sick or injured children were treated as though they were just tiny adults. After birth, there was no real place for children in hospitals generally, nor interest in them medically.

All of this was changed by the founding in 1855 of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
At the time, most childhood illnesses were handled at home. There was an appallingly high mortality rate for infants and children admitted to adult hospitals because of cross infection, diarrhea, and even neglect. This sad state-of-affairs deeply disturbed a Pennsylvania Hospital-trained physician named Dr. Francis West Lewis, who would set about to change things.
After visiting the newly established Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London, Dr. Lewis resolved to form a similar institution for Philadelphia's poor children. He joined with Drs. Thomas Hewson Bache and R.A.F. Penrose to open a small hospital and dispensary in the city.

There were 12 beds in the first hospital, and during the first full year of operation they admitted for 67 children and had 821 visits to the dispensary.

Their idea — a new medical discipline specifically for caring for children — would blossom quickly. Fourteen years later, a children's hospital was formed in Boston and by the 1870's there were children's hospitals extending from Albany in the east to San Francisco in the west. Pediatrics was well on its way.
The hotbed for innovation, and the model for other children's hospitals, would continue to be in Philadelphia at Children's Hospital. It is here that the various specialties that now make up pediatrics evolved.
From the outset, some of the nation's outstanding pioneers in pediatric research and clinical care have been part of Children's Hospital. The succession of great names who have passed through the Hospital includes: Sir William Osler, Joseph Stokes, Jr., C. Everett Koop, Gertrude and Werner Henle, Stanley Plotkin, William Rashkind, Audrey Evans and others.
Early on, leaders at Children's Hospital recognized the importance and synergy of a vibrant environment for research and education. The pediatricians at Children's Hospital comprise the pediatric teaching department at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, consistently ranked among the best in the nation. Researchers here have discovered genes, pioneered new treatments, and developed vaccines.

These ingredients for excellence have long been bolstered by the support of a dedicated community.
As a charitable, non-profit hospital, Children's Hospital has depended on philanthropy to advance its mission. And throughout its history, generous families, individuals, companies and foundations have made significant contributions the Hospital.

In its first year, Children's Hospital collected just over $4,000 in donations. When the Hospital moved to its Bainbridge Street location in Center City Philadelphia in 1916, and funding was urgently needed, the community contributed $500,000 in 10 days! Such vivid illustrations of munificence carry on to this day. Last fiscal year, the Hospital raised approximately $50 million in gifts and pledges.

This support has helped make Children's Hospital a beacon of hope — where research leads to cures, where families find the best care for their children.
During the last century, Children's Hospital has been the place for innovations and firsts to the field of pediatric medicine. It has also mentored some of the nation's finest talents in pediatrics and continues to be the premier training ground for future pediatric leaders.

Children's Hospital has built what is now is the largest pediatric healthcare network in the U.S., with nearly 50 sites that treat children throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Today, the Hospital has 430 beds and sees more than 1 million outpatient and inpatient visits.

The story of pediatrics continues to be written at Children's Hospital. The work here will ensure that children now and in the future, and from all across the globe, will be able to experience the gift of childhood.

Image: Dr. Francis West Lewis


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