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Children's National Medical Center History

Children’s National Medical Center
140+ Years Serving the Nation’s Children

The original row house that was home to Children's Hospital in 1870.In 1870, children in the District of Columbia were bearing the burden of the Civil War. Poverty, hunger, and lack of social services took a heavy toll on the health and welfare of children throughout the region. To address the needs of sick children living in poverty, a group of physicians in the District came together, and on December 5, 1870 the Children’s Hospital of the District of Columbia was incorporated.

The first hospital was in a rented row house close to the present day Metro Center. It was furnished through the work and donations of 20 women who pledged their support to the Children’s Hospital and created the Board of Lady Visitors. The first patients were admitted to the hospital in February, 1871.

Growing to Meet Patients’ Needs

The location of the hospital has changed over the years. It moved from its original location to 13th and W Streets, NW, where it served children and families until 1977, when Children’s moved to its present location on Michigan Avenue, NW.

Children's Hospital moved to 13th and W in 1878 and stayed there for nearly 100 years.
Children's Hospital moved to 13th and W in 1878 and stayed there for nearly 100 years.

The hospital has grown from a modest 12-bed facility in 1870 to a 303-bed facility that performs nearly 15,000 surgeries and offers more than 370,000 outpatient visits in 45 specialties each year. Additionally, Children’s National is the largest non-government provider of primary care in the District, seeing about 35,000 children and teens each year through its healthcare centers.

The hospital today is a 283 bed facility and is known as The Nation's Children's Hospital.
In 1977, the hospital moved to its present location on Michigan Avenue.

Today, the institution – now called Children’s National Medical Center – includes primary health centers, regional outpatient centers, and affiliated pediatric primary and specialty practices throughout the metropolitan area. Additionally, Children’s National Medical Center is 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. Children and families travel locally, nationally, and internationally to seek the expertise of our pediatric specialists and nationally recognized nursing staff.

Creating a Stronger Community

In 1977, the hospital moved to its present location on Michigan Avenue.Children’s National also plays an important role in the community as an employer and educator. Children’s National employs more than 6,000 staff members, located at more than 30 facilities across the metropolitan area.

Children’s National faculty members serve as pediatric faculty of The George Washington University School of Medicine. We train 84 pediatric residents and 115 fellows and other graduate trainees each year, and many of our faculty members write or contribute to the text books that are used at medical schools throughout the country.

Additionally, Children’s specialists provide services at many hospitals and facilities throughout the region, bringing more access to our world-class physicians to patients who throughout the region. Through the Telemedicine Program, children in Southern Maryland – and as far away as Africa – have access to our experts.

Children’s National is recognized as one of the nation’s leading clinical and research institutions, having been consistently ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in America, as noted by U.S.News & World Report. Furthermore, Children’s National achieved Magnet designation for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the highest recognition for hospital nursing in the country.

This cartoon is believed to be the origin of the present day Dr. Bear.Advocating for Children

Children’s National has a long-standing history of advocating for children in the Washington, DC, region and around the nation. More than 30 years ago, Children’s established the nation’s first hospital-based office focused exclusively on child health advocacy, and has continued to make advocacy a priority by incorporating it into the institution’s mission.

The Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children’s National identifies and studies threats facing children, and develops and implements programs to address those threats. As a national leader in the field of pediatric health advocacy, Children’s National improves health outcomes through discovery, delivery, and dissemination of best practices.

Celebrating our History

A bronze historical marker was dedicated on November 3, 2010 at the intersection of 13th and G Streets, NW, just steps away from the original row house that was home to Children’s Hospital in 1870. This location was specifically selected to remind the thousands of people who pass daily through the busy Metro Center station that Children’s National Medical Center began in the heart of downtown Washington, DC, 140 years ago, and remains an integral part of the nation’s capital, while also playing an important role across the region and around the world.

The bronze historical marker installed at the corner of 13th and G near the site of the 1870s Children's Hospital.

The bronze historical marker installed at the corner of 13th and G near the site of the 1870s Children's Hospital.


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