Pivotal Points in Time
This story is just one example of important decisions that changed the course of Cincinnati Children’s history and led us to global recognition as a leader in child health. It’s also an example of our long tradition of attracting innovative thinkers to our team who are able to imagine possibilities and transform them into reality through collaboration, talent and a deep passion for helping children.
- Procter cemented the academic orientation of the hospital when he stipulated that 1) the third hospital structure, built with his help in 1926, be located near the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, and 2) the physician-in-chief of the hospital would also serve as the university’s chair of the Department of Pediatrics. This type of connection was uncommon for children’s hospitals at that time. Most operated in isolation.
- The Research Foundation opened in 1931, endowed by Procter with $2.5 million. It was the first pediatric-focused research foundation in the country, and it is the oldest building on our campus. Procter required that proceeds from the endowment be reinvested in research and could not be used for operating expenses. His gift enabled our long tradition of intradisciplinary collaboration and cooperation.
- Procter also required that our scientific production be reviewed periodically. The first review happened in 1938 when select faculty members met with the Scientific Advisory Committee in New York. One of the committee’s recommendations was that we should invest in virology, as the study of viruses was becoming important. It proved to be wise advice.
What followed was a “Golden Age” of research at Cincinnati Children’s, with the likes of Josef Warkany, MD, Human Genetics; Albert Sabin, MD, Virology; Clark West, MD, Nephrology; Fred Silverman, MD, Radiology; and Sam Kaplan, MD, Cardiology, serving on a dream team of investigators. Their discoveries and innovations dramatically improved pediatric care and brought Cincinnati Children’s to the world’s attention.
- World War II had a deep impact on the hospital as many of our physicians were called to serve in the military. Sabin was sworn in as a lieutenant colonel with the Board of Investigation of Diseases, where he developed a vaccine for encephalitis. Merlin Cooper, MD, director of Bacteriology, did research on dysentery. Samuel Rapoport, MD, with the help of Paul Hoxworth, MD, perfected a preservative solution for whole blood, which was used by the U.S. Army and Navy. With this spate of research developments, post-war competition to recruit physician scientists was fierce. Fortunately, Children’s reputation, facilities and endowments were very attractive. In 1950, we added a new research and laboratory wing in Procter’s memory, expanded the number of departments and added thousands of research discoveries and therapeutic programs to our list of achievements.
- Edward Pratt, MD, chair of Pediatrics (1963-1979), and Chief of Staff Bill Schubert, MD, worked to consolidate five independent pediatric care organizations in the area with our own Children’s Hospital and the Research Foundation. They were: the Adolescent Clinic, the Dental Clinic, the Convalescent Hospital, the Cincinnati Center for Developmental Disorders and United Cerebral Palsy. Each existed for its own purpose and often competed for the same resources. Getting them to unite under one medical staff and one administration was no small feat. Together, they became Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1973 and offered families one place to access comprehensive medical and psychosocial services for their children.
- That same year, Children’s Hospital leadership agreed to become the area’s only pediatric hospital, which meant taking on the care of all children, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. Previously, most of the unpaid cases had gone to General Hospital (now University Hospital). This decision led to an annual budget deficit of roughly $3.5 million. To make up for this gap, Schubert requested funding from Hamilton County. In June 1976, a tax levy passed at the polls, and for the first time, Children’s became a partially tax-supported institution.
With the passage of the levy, General Hospital agreed to close all of its pediatric services, except for its newborn nursery. Good Samaritan Hospital also ended its pediatric services and merged its residency program with ours. In return, we provided faculty for their newborn intensive care unit. This marked the consolidation of all pediatric care in the Greater Cincinnati community.
- In June 1987, we opened Children’s Outpatient North, known today as Mason Campus. It was our first foray into the community and the first time we offered surgical services apart from the main hospital. We proved we could do it without sacrificing quality or safety, and it was much more convenient for patients and families.
- In the ’90s, we recognized that research wasn’t just about basic science. We began to delve into quality improvement and healthcare delivery and made them into genuine academic enterprises. In April 2002, Cincinnati Children’s received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for Pursuing Perfection—the only pediatric facility to be awarded one. The grants were given in response to two reports from the Institute of Medicine that suggested the healthcare system was failing America because it was poorly designed. The grants helped formalize our quest to transform healthcare through a family-centered approach, breaking down silos and building up our infrastructure to support and sustain our work. On September 1, 2010, the James M. Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence was established to expand our quality improvement efforts. Uma Kotagal, MBBS, MSc, was named executive director.
- In 2010 we re-dedicated ourselves to building a culture of safety by empowering all staff to speak up if they had a concern about a patient and reinforcing the concept of 200-percent accountability. This behavioral shift, which initially thrust many employees outside their comfort zone, paid off in reduced serious safety events. We quickly broadened our scope to eliminate all serious, preventable harm, including precursor events, e.g., blood stream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, surgical site infections and serious pressure ulcers. Soon after, we added employee safety to the mix. In 2012, we started the Ohio Children’s Hospitals’ Solutions for Patient Safety—a collaborative that allowed us to share learnings about safety at the national level.