Nurses relax outside the Frances Skinner Edris Nurses’ Home
Trustee Frances Skinner Edris passes away 24 hours after giving birth to a daughter. Stunned trustees and community members donate generously in her memory, and in 1924, the Frances Edris Nurses' Home opens on hospital property with room for 40 nurses.
Patients wore casts to reshape bones crippled by polio, tuberculosis and rickets
In February 1926, the trustees introduce orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles F. Eikenbary as Children's Orthopedic Hospital's new chief of staff – an unpaid position.
Eikenbary takes the job on the condition that the hospital focus solely on orthopedic conditions and clear its wards of patients with infectious diseases.
Seven years later, Eikenbary cuts his finger during a surgery. The wound heals, but his demanding schedule at the hospital does not allow him to regain his strength. Pneumonia follows, and he dies on December 31, 1933.
After Eikenbarry's untimely death, physicians return to treating non-orthopedic cases. The trustees wait for eight years before they name Dr. Herbert Coe chief of staff in December 1941.
Children’s thrift store circa 1940
Trustee Dorothy Stimson Bullitt envisions a money-maker for Children's Orthopedic Hospital modeled after the Women's Exchange in San Francisco: an outlet for high-quality craft items made by women at home. When the board denies her seed money to fund the project, she takes a $200 loan from the Hospital Association against future profits and opens The Corner Cupboard in downtown Seattle.
In its first month in December 1926, the shop nets more than $1,000.
The Corner Cupboard remains a unique downtown Seattle institution until 1989, the very same year that Bullitt, a hospital supporter for 67 years, passes away.
A New Wing
New hospital wing, 1928
Eikenbary and the board press forward to build a new east wing, which includes demolition of the Fresh Air Cottage and the Sunshine Playroom. Friends of Children's Orthopedic Hospital pledge the astronomical amount of $250,000, but the actual fulfillment of those pledges comes up short.
With the help of an anonymous donor and a bank loan, the new wing opens in January 1928. Years later, the donor is revealed to be aviation pioneer William E. Boeing.
Because patients live at the hospital for many weeks at a time, the staff place great emphasis on education, play, exercise and physical therapy. The new wing features:
- An outpatient department with offices and exam rooms
- 80 more inpatient beds
- A shop for making orthopedic braces
- New operating and waiting rooms
- A playroom with large fireplace
- A therapy pool with overhead suspension system for physical therapy
The Calm Before the Storm
Children get plenty of fresh air on the rooftop sun porch at Children’s Orthopedic Hospital
By 1929, the average stay at Children's Orthopedic Hospital is 52 days. Some children stay for years as they undergo multiple surgeries to straighten spines and legs.
Snapshot of Children's Orthopedic Hospital in 1929
- Has treated more than 15,000 children since the hospital's inception
- Has one of the nation's first dedicated pediatric surgeons
- Is at the top of the American Academy of Surgeons' list of Class A hospitals across the United States
- Employs 104 staff members, including 53 nurses
- Has 150 inpatient beds
- 60 patients attend school in the hospital
- 90% of patients receive free care, which is supported through Hospital Association dues, gifts, investment income and volunteer labor
- Depends on volunteer surgeons, physicians, dentists and other medical professionals
- Has 51 guilds, 18 auxiliaries and affiliates in Tacoma, Olympia, Sumner, Snohomish and Yakima
- More than 2,900 Hospital Association members pay dues to support hospital operations
- Operates profitable café and thrift and crafts stores