Believing in World-Class Care for Children
When Kurt Newman, M.D., became President and CEO of Children’s National Hospital a decade ago, he relocated his office from the quieter executive suites to a busy downstairs corridor. “More people stop by,” he says, “like former patients and staff who want to share something they’re proud of.”
His office has another perk: a back door that leads into the surgery department. “I love to pop in and see the choreography and kindness of everyone working together to make a difference for children.” Dr. Newman misses his days as a practicing surgeon, but every day, he makes a difference on a larger scale. He pays forward his decades of pediatric expertise and leadership to create positive change at the hospital.
Dr. Newman’s deep belief in caring for the whole family and championing innovation has transformed Children’s National from what he believes was a very good community children’s hospital into one that’s world-class. He credits dedicated, compassionate team members and a generous community that believes in the mission and wants to support it.
10 Things That Make Kurt Proud
1. Delivering Heartfelt Care
"The people who work at Children’s National ― from those who park cars to providers who deliver medical care ― are hardworking and empathetic. Our staff’s dedication is palpable. It’s like a heartbeat.”
2. Saving Lives
"There’s no better feeling than having someone tell me that I saved their life 20 years ago and then show me a picture of their own child. This is what it means to build brighter futures.”
3. Being a Voice for Kids
“Our focus on keeping patients and families, the community and our nearly 8,000 employees safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic never wavered. Our staff sacrificed and worked harder than ever. I’ve thought a lot about my father along the way and how he must have felt about his service during World War II. I’m sure he put his head down and did what he had to do. It’s too soon for nostalgia about the pandemic, but there is hope. From our pediatric testing center to vaccine clinical trials and caring for sick children, taking in older patients, sharing technology with other hospitals and vaccinating teachers, we helped the community survive. We have also been a national voice of truth in the media about the risks of COVID-19 for kids. I feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose that includes everyone at Children’s National. While many challenges remain, I believe these will be among the proudest moments of our lives.”
4. Listening to What Matters
“My experience as a surgeon enables me to understand the daily challenges staff face, then prioritize improvements. On my first day as CEO, I rode the parking shuttle next to a nurse I’d known for a long time. She worked in many different areas of the hospital, including oncology. I asked her what one big thing I could change to help her provide better care. She didn’t hesitate; we needed an onsite pharmacy. She explained that children with cancer often need specialized medicines and outside pharmacies didn’t always get the prescriptions right. If we had a pharmacy, families could pick up medications here along with instructions from our nurses. We opened our pharmacy in 2014.”
5. Providing the Highest Level of Care
“Leadership at Children’s National continues to drive up quality of care and safety. This inspires gratitude from families. It means kids can get on with their lives.”
6. Acting on Big Ideas 7. Bringing World-Class Care Close to Home
"Generous donors give us the freedom and courage to turn big ideas into action, such as increasing access to mental health care for very young children, especially those who live in under-resourced communities.”
“My surgical practice for years included a small clinic in Upper Marlboro, MD. Having access to care from Children’s National close to home meant so much to the families there. This made a huge impression on me. After I became CEO, we focused on bringing care into neighborhoods with a focus on building the kind of places we’d like to bring our own children to. We built a major specialty center in Prince George’s County. We also brought world-class facilities to Washington, DC’s Ward 8. Families love the convenience and great care.”
8. Going Beyond Medical Care
“When people come to the hospital and see all the things we do beyond medical care ― such as art, music and pet therapy ― they get an idea of how we focus on healing the whole child. We even had a pony dressed up as a unicorn visit the Costco Wholesale Atrium."
9. Attracting Top Talent
“Philanthropy makes it possible for us to recruit the smartest and brightest doctors, nurses and researchers. We find the people with the biggest hearts. Our medical residency program also consistently attracts top applicants who will become the next generation of pediatric specialists. The program has a special focus on recruiting and training residents from underrepresented backgrounds.”
10. Improving Surgeries for Children
“More than a decade ago, a visionary donor challenged us to imagine how future pediatric surgeries could be more precise, less invasive and pain-free. Children’s National recently performed the first-ever high-intensity focused ultrasound surgery on a young patient with a brain tumor. This successful surgery was a major milestone in fulfilling the promise of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation. Support from generous donors also enabled us to open our one-of-a-kind launchpad for pediatric breakthroughs in 2021: Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus.”