“Firsts” highlight Children’s Hospital’s history
Since opening its doors in 1937, Children’s Hospital has changed and grown tremendously. It had humble beginnings as a small hospital for children with polio. Today, Children’s is a Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center offering a wide range of pediatric health care services.
Throughout its history, Children’s Hospital has been the first in the region to offer a number of unique, specialized services. The focus of each of these firsts has been the special needs of infants, children and teens. This emphasis on children is what makes Children’s Hospital unique among medical centers. Click the links below to learn more:
Quintuplets – Children’s Hospital provided care in the Haslam Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for Tennessee’s first surviving quintuplets, the van Tols. Willem Scott, Sean Conner, Isabella Marie, Ashley Faith and Meghan Ann were born January 14, 2004, between 12:22 and 12:24 p.m. and weighed between 2 pounds, 8.8 ounces and 4 pounds, 0 ounces. The bigger, stronger boys went home first, on February 6. Isabella went home February 9, and the other two girls went home February 15. The proud parents, Willem and Shannon van Tol of Knoxville, welcomed their five healthy babies during a Cesarean section at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, across the street from Children’s Hospital. The birth took place during Shannon’s 33rd week of pregnancy, after she had been on bed rest for about eight weeks. Among the 28 health care professionals attending the delivery were five neonatologists, five neonatal nurses and five respiratory therapists from Children’s Hospital. They were on hand to immediately provide specialized neonatal care to the quints and transport them to the NICU at Children’s. Tennessee’s first set of quintuplets was delivered at Vanderbilt Medical Center in 1997; only one of the five babies survived.
Subspecialists – Children’s Hospital’s first pediatric subspecialist, John Maddox, M.D., pediatric general surgeon, joined the hospital staff in October 1964; he remained the only pediatric subspecialist on staff at Children’s for more than a dozen years. Dr. Maddox retired in 2003 after nearly 40 years at Children’s Hospital. Since the late 1970s, a part of Children’s Hospital’s mission has been to recruit fellowship-trained pediatric subspecialists in a variety of fields from across the nation. Today, physicians in 28 pediatric subspecialties practice at Children’s Hospital.
Pediatric Emergency Department – In 1970, Children’s became the first hospital in the area to offer emergency medicine services exclusively to pediatric patients. Three years later, the Pediatric Emergency Group was formed, providing physician coverage in the department 24 hours a day. Because of rapid growth in this service, a wing was added to the hospital in 1981 for a new Emergency/Outpatient Department. Today the Scott M Niswonger Emergency Department continues to be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by the Children’s Pediatric Group – physicians specially trained in pediatric emergency medicine.
In 2005 the ED was expanded as part of Children’s Hospital’s expansion plan from 18 to 34 beds.
Child Life – The first Child Life Department in the state was established at Children’s Hospital in February 1978 because of the hospital’s concern for the total child. Child Life staff focus on the emotional, social, creative and educational needs of patients at the hospital. They use group and one-on-one play and interaction to help children cope with the hospital experience. They believe strongly in the philosophy that a child should not have to stop being a child just because of a hospitalization.
Neurology – The Oliver William Hill Jr., M.D., Pediatric Neurology Laboratory opened in September 1983. In addition to being the first pediatric neurology lab in Tennessee, it is one of only about 10 accredited pediatric labs nationwide. The Neurology Lab performs tests on children with seizure disorders, migraines, learning disabilities, sleep disorders and other diagnoses.
Home Health Care – When Children’s Hospital began a home health care service in 1984, it was the only pediatric home health program in Tennessee. Today, the Home Health Care department has grown so much that it has its own offices in Farragut. The Home Health Care Department offers nursing, respiratory care, rehabilitation, infusion therapy and other services to children in the comfort of their own homes. Home Health also offers an enteral feeding program for almost 200 patients; it is a unique program that many other home health agencies are just beginning to offer. The goal of Children’s Home Health Care is the same as that of the hospital -- to provide children with needed care in the least restrictive and most comfortable setting possible.
Pediatric Psychiatric Services – Children’s Hospital opened East Tennessee’s first inpatient pediatric psychiatric unit in November 1985. CHIPS -- Children’s Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Services -- provided a structured and therapeutic environment for children with emotional and behavioral problems. However, despite extraordinary efforts by the CHIPS staff, a decrease in patient census and mental health insurance reimbursements led to the unit’s closure in early 1996.
Pet Therapy – In 1987, members of HABIT (Human Animal Bond in Tennessee) began a pilot program to volunteer with their pets in CHIPS, the Children’s Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Unit. The pet owners and their pets made regular visits to CHIPS to play with the patients in that unit. The program, which eventually became permanent, was the first such hospital pet therapy program in the state. In 1995, HABIT expanded to the Hematology/Oncology Outpatient Clinic . The opportunity to interact with friendly dogs helps pediatric patients forget about their treatment for a while and focus on something else.
Pediatric Transport Service – In 1993, Children’s Hospital initiated a pediatric critical care transport service to transport critically ill infants, children and teens to the hospital from outlying county hospitals throughout the region. The service, which was the first of its kind in East Tennessee, uses specially equipped hospital-to-hospital ambulances, each of which is essentially an intensive care unit on wheels. The Pediatric Transport Service shares the ambulances with Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Transport Service, which began in 1980 to transport premature and sick newborns to the hospital’s Haslam Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Partners in Pediatrics – In 1996, Children’s Hospital established Partners in Pediatrics, a pediatric physician-hospital organization that works with third-party payors to ensure the area’s pediatricians and family-practice physicians can provide children with the most appropriate health care. During this time of rapid change in insurance and the growth of managed care, Partners also helps to ensure physicians are appropriately represented with the third-party payors. Partners is the only physician-hospital organization in East Tennessee and one of only a handful in the country dedicated solely to the delivery of pediatric health care.
Children’s Hospital is proud of these “firsts” in our history. But those who benefit from these ongoing efforts are the children of East Tennessee, who deserve the best health care possible in an environment that caters to their unique pediatric needs.