First Hospital Director
Until the mid-1950s, nurse superintendents ran the hospital (photo circa 1920)
In 1909, nurse Lillian Carter, called Mama Lillian by the children, becomes the first "superintendent" of Fresh Air House – a title held by hospital directors for the next 45 years (all of whom are nurses).
That same year, the Washington State Legislature requires nurses to be certified and designates the title of Registered Nurse to those who complete two years of study.
Focus on Pediatrics
Madeline Black is hospitalized for over a year before physicians must amputate her leg
In 1909, surgeon Casper W. Sharples recruits Dr. George McCulloch to see patients at Children's Orthopedic Hospital. McCulloch, the first pediatrician west of the Mississippi, broadens the scope of the hospital and the types of patients admitted.
By 1910, physicians have a better understanding of nutritional fluid-electrolyte disorders and infectious diseases. McCulloch demonstrates that the hospital can treat many conditions other than orthopedic.
Orthopedics, ophthalmology and dental are the first specialty services at Children's Orthopedic Hospital. Physicians leave their private practices for several hours each week and travel to Fresh Air House to treat patients.
First Home Care and Social Services
Boy peeks his head out of a door
In 1910, cases of poliomyelitis (polio) surge in Seattle, leaving large numbers of children with motor paralysis and atrophied skeletal muscles. Since Fresh Air House prohibits contagious disease cases, the trustees hire Hortense Marion to visit sick children at home.
Nurse Marion instructs parents on their children's polio care and also visits orthopedic patients after hospital discharge.
A Proper Hospital
The new hospital under construction
Successful fundraisers, bequests and the timely donation of property bordering Fresh Air House allow the trustees to commission the construction of a three-story brick hospital complete with an operating room, sun porch and enough space to accommodate 70 patients. The total cost is $76,000. The structure is designed to permit the addition of a fourth floor and two additional wings in the future.
On March 15, 1911, trustees and 3,000 supporters dedicate the building.
The Seattle Times calls the new Children's Orthopedic Hospital the most modern and well-equipped hospital on the West Coast; yet no sooner does the hospital open than the trustees organize a community pencil sale to finance a much-needed elevator so that nurses do not have to carry patients, meals and supplies up and down three flights of stairs.
Fresh Air House becomes a nursing residence and staff annex through the 1940s.
Surgeons in the operating room at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital circa 1912
In 1912, the trustees open the hospital to patients for nonorthopedic surgeries such as tonsillectomies and appendectomies.
Teachers and Preachers
One of the first staff members at Fresh Air Cottage is a kindergarten teacher. This emphasis on education continues in the new hospital with Seattle School District teachers who provide students with daily lessons.
The hospital ward functions as a makeshift school for part of every day
Many patients have skeletal problems that require months of bandaging and positioning. Nurses keep notes on the slow progress of patients' orthopedic illnesses. Two years of nurses' notes are kept on a single index card!
In addition to daily physical therapy, patients receive frequent visits from clowns and storytellers and are well supplied with books, music, games and toys; however, movies are strictly forbidden.
Student nurses from Seattle General Hospital also provide a free source of labor for the hospital and another important diversion for patients.
In 1913 trustee Elizabeth Fischer recruits John L. Taylor as a volunteer Sunday school teacher, and he leads Bible instruction classes for the next 25 years – well into his 80s. Taylor's successors continue to provide spiritual support from a Judeo-Christian perspective until the early 1990s when the chapel becomes a place of meditation inclusive of all faiths.
Our Founder Retires
Anna Herr Clise, founder of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital
Anna Clise resigns from the board in 1915 after eye surgery for glaucoma results in her blindness. The board elects Anna Founder and Honorary Trustee before she and husband James move to Altadena, California, on the instructions of her physician.
In the early 1920s, Anna's daughter, Ruth Clise Colwell, joins the board.