History

Children's National Atrium
One of the nation's first children’s hospitals, Children's National is a leader in pediatric healthcare, a health system designed to meet the needs of children - from primary care to intensive care.

Serving the nation’s children for more than 140 years, Children’s National Health System has been an innovator in pediatric healthcare around the nation and around the world.

Children’s National was one of the nation's first children’s hospitals, opening in 1870 and growing from a modest 12-bed facility to a 313-bed facility that performs more than 17,000 surgeries and provides more than 460,000 outpatient visits in more than 50 specialties each year. 

Formerly referred to as DC Children’s Hospital, Children’s National is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area.

Today, the institution includes primary health centers, regional outpatient centers, and affiliated pediatric primary and specialty practices throughout the metropolitan area, in addition to tertiary care. Additionally, we’re home to the Children’s Research Institute, the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, as well as the Children’s National Heart Institute, the Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute, the Brain Tumor Institute, and the Obesity Institute.

Throughout our history, we have witnessed tremendous growth and change in pediatric healthcare. The current marketplace is in the midst of unprecedented change, and Children's National is committed to staying in front of the curve.

View this area to learn more about our history, our growth, and our commitment to improving care for children.  

2000 to present

2000 to present

2007: New East Inpatient Tower opens, enhancing the expert, family-centered care at Children’s.

2009: State-of-the-art 54-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opens.

2009: Children’s Research Institute expands to increase research space atop the main building, allowing for researchers to better serve families with world-class bench-to-bedside care.

2009: Sheikh  Zayed Institute opens; the Institute is named in honor of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE and the country's president from 1971 until his death in 2004. The medical center's main campus, the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Pediatric Medicine, is also named in his honor.

2010: Full-service satellite emergency department completed at United Medical Center in Southeast.

2011: New Cardiac Intensive Care Unit opens.

2011: Blood and Marrow Transplantation opens a new outpatient unit.

2011: Outpatient radiology facility, the Montgomery County Regional Outpatient Center, opens in Rockville, Md.

2011: Seven new operating rooms open as part of a phased overhaul to the entire OR suites, bringing totals to 17 operating rooms and two GI procedure rooms.

2011: New research space opens for the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, possible by a historic gift of $150 million from the government of Abu Dhabi - the largest gift ever made to support pediatric surgery, and one of the largest to any children's hospital.

2013: Children’s redefines and repositions its brand, changing the logo and name for the first time since 1985 to Children’s National Health System, which reflects how we’re no longer just a hospital, but a comprehensive health system for kids—providing everything they need for their care, whether it is well visits, or a hospitalization.

2013: One-of-a-kind Pain Medicine Care Complex, which revolutionizes the way children are treated for pain, opens.

2013: Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex opens.

1960 to 2000

1960 to 2000

1963: Pediatric Surgery established as a discipline and the surgery training program begins.

1964: New outpatient department, an intensive care unit, and an open heart surgery program are established.

1970: Construction begins for a new hospital on Michigan Avenue after Children’s accepts Washington Hospital Center’s offer to lease seven acres of property adjacent to their hospital for $1 for 99 years.

1973: A hospital-based advocacy unit opens, becoming the first of its kind in the country.

1975: The first physicians specializing in critical care begin to provide care.

1977: President Jimmy Carter, other guests help dedicate new state-of-the-art hospital.

1983: Children’s hosts first Children’s Miracle Network Telethon in conjunction with Osmond Foundation.

1984: ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) program begins.

1984: Children’s dedicates a helipad after becoming a regional pediatric trauma center.

1985: First satellite medical center opens in Fairfax, Va., offering specialty consultative services.

1985: New Special Immunology Team begins treating HIV-infected patients and their families.

1988: First bone marrow transplant procedure performed.

1988: Kick-off of the national SAFE Kids Campaign to bring awareness to childhood injury prevention.

1989: Hospital adopts its third name – Children’s National Medical Center- and a new logo – a teddy bear with a stethoscope – and created several corporate subsidiaries including Children’s Research Institute and Children’s Foundation.

1989: Eleven-year-old girl becomes hospital’s first heart transplant recipient.

1990: The Ambulatory Infusion Center in the Department of Hematology/Oncology opens doors.

1991: Seven-story building opens, giving the hospital space to expand its clinical and outpatient services.

1900 to 1960

1900 to 1960

1914: Infant Welfare Station opens to provide nourishment and preventive care for infants and children.

1932: The Child Guidance Center, predecessor of today’s Psychiatry Department, opens.

1939: Blood Bank opens.

1947: Children’s establishes the Research Foundation and the Department of Volunteers.

1950: The well-baby clinic, founded by the Child Welfare Society, becomes part of the hospital.

1956: The adolescent medicine inpatient unit, the first of its kind in the United States, opens.

1959: New building opens to house Research Foundation, which receives funding from the Variety Club.

1870 to 1900

1870 to 1900

1870: The Children’s Hospital of the District of Columbia is incorporated as the area’s first hospital devoted exclusively to children.

1871: The first patients are admitted to the 12-bed hospital housed in a rented row house near 13th and G Streets NW - close to the present-day Metro Center in downtown Washington, DC.

1875: Land is purchased for construction of a new hospital at 13th and W Streets, NW.

1876: First Children’s Hospital Charity Ball is held to raise money to care for the area’s neediest children.

1878: Children’s Hospital moves to 13th and W streets and stays there for nearly 100 years.

1887: First medical students from George Washington and Georgetown universities begin training at Children’s. A year later, a similar training program for nurses began.

1894: A 12-bed baby ward opens to care for children under the age of 18 months.


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