- Our Story - East Tennessee Children's Hospital
  • Search:

Our Story

East Tennessee Children's Hospital is a not-for-profit, private, independent pediatric medical center whose only concern is the care of your child. Since our first day in 1937, we have had an "open-door" policy that no child will be denied care because of race, religion or their parents' ability to pay their child's medical bill.

Pediatric Medical Center

In June 1998, former Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist signed the Emergency Medical Services for Children bill into law, requiring all Tennessee hospitals to maintain appropriate capability to provide pediatric emergency health care services to children who seek medical care for illness or injury at their facilities. Under this law, each hospital in the state was required to self-designate according to the level of pediatric service offered. Children's Hospital designated that it would serve the families of East Tennessee as a Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center, the highest level of certification for pediatric care, a designation certified by the state of Tennessee on September 18, 2000.

Health Care for Childrens

As a Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center, Children's Hospital offers full capabilities to care for seriously ill children in a unique pediatric environment and offers the services of many different pediatric subspecialties. Children's Hospital works jointly with the University of Tennessee Medical Center to ensure that injured children in this region receive trauma care at the institution most appropriate for the child's needs. Comprehensive centers also are responsible for assisting smaller hospitals to meet the requirements of their selected designations, primarily by providing pediatric health care training opportunities to these hospitals.

History of East Tennessee Children's Hospital

1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s

  • September 1935 ... After more than a year of effort by Dr. Jarrell Penn, orthopedic surgeon, working with Henry Galbraith and Oscar Schwarzenburg, Sr., the Knox County Crippled Children's Association was incorporated.
  • September 1935 ... The Knox County Quarterly Court appropriated $7,500 to match Works Progress Administration (WPA) funds for the establishment of a Crippled Children's Hospital.
  • April 1936 ... Fort Sanders Training School donated land to Knox County for the Crippled Children's Hospital.
  • May 1936 ... The Tennessee Department of Public Health (Crippled Children's Services) established clinics on street level.
  • March 1937 ... Knox County Crippled Children's Hospital opened at 1912 Laurel Avenue with 28 beds.
    1937 East Tennessee Children's Hospital

  • October 1938 ... The county appropriated $10,000 to match $10,000 of WPA money to improve the existing Crippled Children's Hospital. (The WPA was established under President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration in the mid-1930s to undertake building and improvement projects to provide work for the unemployed during the Depression. WPA initially stood for Works Progress Administration, and later it was called the Work Projects Administration.)
  • 1940 ... An educational program began under the direction of three specialized teachers at Crippled Children's Hospital. The program included a classroom for learning as well as an arts and crafts room, giving young patients a chance to be out of the wards.
  • 1940s ... Because of admissions from outside Knox County, officials changed the name of the hospital to East Tennessee Crippled Children's Hospital, open to children birth through 21 years with any type of illness.
  • May 1946 ... A $60,000 building and expansion drive was initiated to raise funds for renovations to existing structures.
  • November 1951 ... A four-story wing addition was opened, and a second floor and basement were added to the original building. Total cost for the project exceeded $500,000.
    1951 Children's Hospital
  • December 1955 ... Because of the advent of antibiotics and the polio vaccine, the need for specialized orthopedic services diminished. However, there was a pressing need for a specialty hospital to serve the area's younger patients. Because of this, East Tennessee Crippled Children's Hospital was officially renamed East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
  • June 1964 ... East Tennessee Children's Hospital sought $2.5 million for a new hospital building.
  • September 1964 ... The first minutes of the Children's Hospital Auxiliary were recorded. About 20 volunteers, under the leadership of founder and first president Anne Ragsdale Regas, comprised the group. The group is now known as the Children's Hospital Volunteers.
  • October 1964 ... 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 for more than a dozen years. Dr. Maddox retired in 2003 after nearly 40 years at Children's Hospital.
  • June 1965 ... Plans for a new hospital were dropped, and a $1 million campaign was started to raise money for a hospital annex.
  • February 1966 ... Plans for the annex were shelved after residents owning the property needed for the expansion did not want to sell.
  • 1966 ... A Clinch Avenue site was selected for a new $2.5 million hospital.
  • 1967 ... A funding drive for the new hospital began.
  • June 1968 ... Ground was broken on Clinch Avenue for the new hospital.
  • June 1970 ... Construction was completed on the new 74-bed East Tennessee Children's Hospital at 2018 Clinch Avenue.
  • February 1975 ... The number of beds increased from 74 to 96 with the completion of a 22-bed fourth floor (the fourth floor had been shelled in at the time the Clinch Avenue hospital building was constructed).
    1974 Hospital Building

  • March 1975 ... The addition of an Intensive Care Nursery increased total beds at East Tennessee Children's Hospital to 122. In late 1975, the nursery suspended services.
  • March 1975 ... A new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit opened.
  • August 1976 ... A Short Stay Surgery Unit opened as a comprehensive one-day unit designed to reduce surgical costs for patients.
  • September 1976 ... Bob Koppel, a native of Arkansas, was named Administrator of East Tennessee Children's Hospital.
  • February 1978 ... 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.
  • August 1980 ... The Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery reopened.
  • October 1981 ... The newly-constructed, 10,000-square-foot Emergency/Outpatient Department opened.
  • May 1982 ... The Sunsphere opening at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville benefited Children's Hospital.
  • Summer 1982 ... The first Camp Eagle's Nest summer camp was held for patients in the hematology and oncology clinic.
  • 1982 ... Reconstructive and Pediatric Urology was added to the list of medical subspecialties at Children's.
  • May 1983 ... The first Children's Hospital Telethon took place in cooperation with the Children's Miracle Network; the telethon was broadcast locally on WBIR-TV 10 for 30 years.
  • September 1983 ... 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.
  • October 1983 ... Ultrasound testing joined Children's Hospital's growing list of diagnostic technologies.
  • January 1984 ... Children's Hospital began management of the East Tennessee Children's Rehabilitation Center.
  • May 1984 ... The first Invitational Golf Tournament was conducted to benefit Children's Hospital's neurology laboratory.
  • June 1984 ... The funds from the second Children's Miracle Network Telethon were designated for the purchase of a specially-equipped neonatal transport van called Lifeline.
  • November 1985 ... Children's Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Services (C.H.I.P.S.) opened.
  • November 1985 ... The first "Fantasy of Trees," sponsored by the Auxiliary and the Development Council of East Tennessee Children's Hospital, was conducted at the Knoxville Convention and Exhibition Center at the World's Fair Site. More than 13,100 guests attended, and the event raised more than $13,800 for the hospital. Volunteers worked an estimated 12,000 hours on the event, which featured about 60 designer items.
  • June 1986 ... Construction began on a professional medical office building across the street from the hospital. The two structures were joined by a covered walkway across 21st Street.
  • June 1986 ... Children's Hospital joined forces with MedFlight to provide the only air ambulance program in the region with specially-trained pediatric nurses on every flight.
  • December 1986 ... The Children's Hospital Medical Office Building opened.
    1986 Medical Office

  • February 1987 ... The Children's Hospital Pediatric Gastroenterology Laboratory opened.
  • February 1987 ... Children's Hospital began performing CT scans.
  • April 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.
  • September 1987 ... During the celebration of its 50th anniversary, Children's Hospital announced plans for a major expansion.
  • November 1988 ... An expansion and renovation project to add two floors to the patient tower and one to the administrative tower began.
  • March 1989 ... Children's Hospital opened an office with specialty physicians at Fort Sanders West.
  • August 1989 ... The Children's Neighborhood child care center opened with a capacity to serve 138 children.
  • September 1989 ... Children's Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Service added day patients and changed its name to Children's Hospital Intensive Psychiatric Services.
  • March 1991 ... Children's Hospital purchased the Children's Lifeline, a mobile neonatal intensive care unit for transporting infants to the NICU at the hospital. At the time, the vehicle was the largest ambulance in the nation.
  • April 1991 ... The Tennessee Board for Licensing Health Care Facilities approved Children's Hospital as a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center.
  • May 1991 ... The hospital completed the expansion and renovation project begun in November 1988. In addition to adding 34,800 square feet of new space to the previous 114,334 gross square feet, the project included a renovation of 56,400 gross square feet of existing space. The number of beds remained 122.
  • July 1991 ... Children's Hospital received approval to establish a cystic fibrosis satellite center affiliated with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
  • September 1991 ... Children's Hospital's Radiology Department opened a Nuclear Medicine Service.
  • October 1991 ... Children's Hospital's Pulmonary Service was established with an expanded Pulmonary Function Lab.
  • December 1992 ... The Non-Emergency Care Center opened to provide primary care after traditional office hours.
  • January 1993 ... The Children's Hospital Pharmacy began dispensing Unit Dose prescriptions.
  • January 1993 ... The Medical Office Building Parking Garage was completed.
  • April 1993 ... The first Center Stage benefit for Children's Hospital featured entertainer Melissa Manchester.
  • July 1993 ... A Pediatric Ground Transport Service via Lifeline was inaugurated. 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.
  • October 1993 ... Pediatric Physiatry was added to the list of medical subspecialties at Children's.
  • December 1993 ... The new two-story entrance to Children's was completed.
  • March 1994 ... The Surgery Department expanded to include seven surgical units and 18 outpatient surgery beds.
  • June 1994 ... The 12th annual Children's Miracle Network telethon broke the $1 million mark for the first time, raising more than $1,015,000 to purchase new medical equipment.
  • August 1994 ... Children's Primary Care Center, a general pediatric practice, opened.
  • Fall 1994 ... Construction was completed on an 8,000-square-foot ambulatory care center over the existing Emergency Department.
  • June 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.
  • August 1996 ... Children's Hospital Home Health Care moved from the Children's Hospital Medical Office Building to a new, larger location in West Knoxville.
  • March 1998 ... An expansion and renovation of Surgery, Outpatient Surgery and the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit at Children's was completed.
  • May 1998 ... The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit introduced the developmental care philosophy into the unit. The philosophy focuses on treating the developmental needs of premature and ill newborns.
  • April 1999 ... Children's Plaza, a three-story office building across the street from the hospital's main entrance and connected on the second floor to the hospital/Medical Office Building crosswalk, opened. The building houses various hospital departments and conference rooms.
    New Facility
  • August 1999 ... The site for Children's West was approved by the board of directors to offer physician office space and outpatient services on an 18-acre site in West Knoxville at Westland Drive and Pellissippi Parkway.
  • June 2000 ... The 18th annual Children's Miracle Network Telethon broke an East Tennessee record by raising $1.84 million, with the funds going toward the purchase of an MRI scanner for the hospital.
  • March 2001 ... Following construction of an addition to Children's Hospital, the MRI scanner went into service at Children's.
  • March 2001 ... Children's Hospital added a fifth administrative vice president position, Vice President for Medical Services. Joseph Childs, M.D. joined the Children's Hospital medical staff in 1988 and also serves the hospital as Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Medical Director of Children's Pediatric Group.

  • April 2001 ... Children's acquired a second Lifeline transport van. The two vans are specially equipped hospital-to-hospital "intensive care units on wheels."
  • June 2001 ... Children's Hospital announced plans to construct Children's West Surgery Center, a pediatric outpatient surgery center on the Children's West campus at Pellissippi Parkway and Westland Drive in West Knoxville. The center is a joint venture between Children's Hospital and 14 area surgeons and dentists. The 8,800-square-foot surgery center was planned to include two operating rooms with capacity to expand to a third.
  • September 2001 ... The Children's Plaza Building, an office building on the campus of Children's Hospital, was renamed Koppel Plaza in honor of Bob Koppel, who celebrated his 25th anniversary as hospital president.
  • November 2001 ... The state of Tennessee's Health Facilities Commission unanimously approved Children's Hospital's Certificate of Need to construct Children's West Surgery Center. 
  • November 2001 ... Children's Hospital announced plans for a major expansion and renovation project includes a new seven-story patient tower, a third-floor addition over the existing Emergency Department and renovation of much of the existing facility, including renovation of all semi-private patient rooms into private rooms with full baths. Also as part of this project, the Koppel Plaza was expanded.
  • December 2001 ... Children's Hospital Home Health Care moved to a larger location in Farragut.
  • December 2001 ... The new Children's Hospital employee parking garage opened.
  • December 2001 ... Construction began on the addition to Koppel Plaza, including an expansion of the building on its west side  two additional floors to the building.
  • February 2002 ... The first Star 102.1 Radiothon to benefit Children's Hospital raised more than $137,000 during its three-day run at.  Proceeds from the event purchased new medical equipment for Children's Hospital Home Health Care and the Outpatient Clinics.
  • February 2002 ... The University of Tennessee Dance Marathon, a student-run event, topped the $100,000 mark for the first time, raising $101,697.84 for the Hematology/Oncology Endowment Fund at Children's Hospital.  
  • Spring 2002 ... Construction began on Children's West Surgery Center.
  • June 2002 ... The 20th annual Children's Miracle Network Telethon topped the $2 million mark for the first time. The telethon's total of more than $2.2 million made it the largest telethon of any kind ever in East Tennessee. The telethon funded the purchase of a new automated chemistry analyzer for the hospital's Laboratory and four new infant ventilators for Respiratory Care.

         July 2002 ... The Nursing Retention Task Force, established to help Children's Hospital face a national shortage of    

          October 2002 ... Work began on excavation of the former Emergency Department/physician parking lot at the corner of Clinch 
          Avenue and 21st Street for the new seven-story patient tower.

  • June 2003 ... The expansion of the Koppel Plaza was finished.
  • January 2004 … Children's Hospital physicians created a pediatric sedation service to offer greater safety and comfort for patients during medical tests and procedures when general anesthesia was unnecessary.
  • January 2004 … 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 Hospital.


  • February 2004The Children's Hospital Rehabilitation Center moved into its new location on the Children's West campus at Pellissippi Parkway and Westland Drive, next to the Children's West Surgery Center.  
  • May 2004 … The Children's Hospital Auxiliary presented its largest gift ever to Children's Hospital -- $75,000 raised through greeting card, plant sales and special events. The funds were for a new patient entertainment system installed in all patient rooms as a way to help make hospitalization more comfortable.
  • September 2004 … The Children's Hospital Auxiliary celebrated its 40th anniversary. 
  • Spring 2005 … Pediatric dermatology, a new subspecialty, was added to the list of subspecialties at Children's. A longtime Children's Hospital dermatologist was one of only three Tennesseans to pass the first-ever certification examination offered by the American Board of Dermatology for certification as a pediatric dermatologist.
  • July 2005 … Pediatric nephrology was added to the list of medical subspecialties at Children's.
  • Fall 2005 … Children's Hospital's $31.8 million, three-year expansion project was completed. When the project began, Children's Hospital was a 169,700-square-foot, 122-bed facility; the hospital now boasts 285,500 square feet of space and 152 licensed beds.  

Children's Hospital 2005 Expansion

  • Fall 2005 … Hospital and staff members worked to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The hospital and staff made significant donations of time, manpower, and supplies (both personal and medical) for shelters throughout the affected states as well as for Knoxville's shelter.
  • November 2005 … The 21st annual Fantasy of Trees to benefit Children's Hospital was a record-breaker. A crowd of 62,556 guests – more than 7,400 above the previous record attendance – visited the show at the Knoxville Convention Center.  The event raised $322,518, the largest net in the event's history.
  • January 2006 … Children's Hospital provided surgical care for an Iraqi girl was first seen at a clinic in Iraq established by the U.S. military.  A physician's assistant with the Tennessee National Guard who examined her had ties to East Tennessee and initiated the process to bring her to Knoxville for treatment.  
  • March 2006 … A capital campaign for Children's Hospital's recently completed three-year, $31.8 million construction/renovation project was announced, including $5 million pledged from three area families to support the $10 million campaign. In addition, three areas of Children's Hospital were named in honor of the three major donors. Bob and Wendy Goodfriend of Knoxville committed $3 million to the capital campaign; because of this gift and their long history of support, the hospital's Board of Directors honored multiple generations of their family by naming the new Children's Hospital seven-story patient facility the "Goodfriend Tower." Members of the Haslam family of Knoxville pledged $1 million to the capital funds campaign, and the hospital's expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was named the "Haslam Family Neonatal Intensive Care Unit" to honor their history of support. Scott M. Niswonger of Greeneville, Tenn., made a commitment of $1 million to the campaign; in appreciation of this gift, the expanded Emergency Department was named the "Scott M. Niswonger Emergency Department" in his honor.
  • August 2006 … Children's Hospital formed an alliance with Holston Valley Regional Children's Hospital and Center in Kingsport to reinvigorate Holston Valley's children's services. Seventeen board-certified pediatric specialists in six specialties from Children's Hospital established an office and see patients at Holston Valley.
  • January 2007 … The Children's Hospital Auxiliary changed its name to Children's Hospital Volunteers to strengthen the organization. All volunteers are automatically members of the organization, which raises funds to support important services throughout the hospital.
  • February 2007 … The Children’s Hospital Rehabilitation Center opened an indoor therapy pool at its facility on the Children’s West Campus in West Knoxville. 
  • March 2007 … Keith D. Goodwin was named President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Children’s Hospital, succeeding Bob Koppel, who retired June 30, 2007 after a distinguished 31-year career as the hospital’s chief executive officer. Goodwin began work at Children's Hospital on June 1, 2007. 

    2007 View of East TN Children's Hospital

  • Spring 2007 … Cardiology went online with the PACS system.
  • November 2007 … The 23rd annual Fantasy of Trees holiday fund-raiser to benefit Children’s Hospital welcomed its one millionth guest and raised a record $380,000.   
  • July 2008 … Children’s Hospital became the lead organization for Safe Kids of the Greater Knox Area.  
  • October 2008 … Children's Hospital spearheaded the launch of the Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity.
  • March 2009 … Children's Hospital launched a Spanish-language website and a fan page on the social networking site Facebook.
  • Spring 2009 … Children's Hospital and the hospital volunteers began an art and music program called "The Art of Healing" to provide therapeutic healing for patients.
  • June 2009 … Children's Hospital concluded its $10 million Capital/Endowment Campaign, successfully topping the goal with $11.5 million raised.
  • December 2009 … The Regal Foundation of the Regal Entertainment Group donated $750,000 to Children's Hospital to help fund a major expansion/renovation of the hospital's Main Lobby and improvements to the Surgery Department's pre-operative holding and family waiting areas.
  • June 2010 … Work began on the $1 million Main Lobby expansion and renovation project.  It included the enclosure of the atrium area to create more seating as well as guest amenities.
  • June 2010 … Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Program began with evaluations and research, leading up to the first infant being placed on the new protocol in November 2010.
  • August 2010 … Children’s Hospital began the implementation process for the Computerized Physician Order Entry system. Physicians began to train on the system in January 2011.
  • June 2011 … Carlton Long was named the hospital’s Vice President for Development and Community Resources. 
  • June 2011 … CF Center for Excellence became a fully accredited, separate entity.
  • October 2011 … Children’s Hospital began using Twitter for Social Media strategies.
  • May 2012 … The Marketing Department and Community Outreach program was launched. 
  • June 2012 … Children's Hospital celebrated its 75th anniversary throughout the year.
  • June 2012Peyton Manning Golf Classic was held to benefit the hospital and the PeyBack Foundation.
  • June 2012Project ADAM Tennessee was launched to install AEDs in Knox County Schools and educate staff on proper use of them.
  • August 2014 … Ground is broken on the newest Children's Hospital building expansion.
  • September 2014 … This marks the 50th Anniversary of the Children’s Hospital Volunteer Program.