100 Years

1945 to 1950: Growing with the Region

Designed for Children

Designed for Children The Peter Rabbit Room, 1945  

In 1945, Superintendent Lillian Thompson looks for a way to soothe children awaiting operations. She transforms the hospital's anesthesia room into the "Peter Rabbit Room," a space decorated with storybook characters.

Later, Thompson's therapeutic interior designs are shown to hasten and improve recoveries — a design technique that continues at the hospital to this day.

The Bifurcated Board

Bifurcated Board The hospital’s 1944 annual report showcases a variety of guild fundraisers  

In 1945, the guilds' existence and influence requires the board of trustees to vote in a new governing structure in which the board president represents the guilds and the board chairman addresses the interests of the hospital.

Growing with the Region

Growing with the Region Clinic nurses work with patients and families in an overcrowded hospital hallway, 1945  

Even before World War II begins, the Orthopedic's wards are packed with patients.

When the war ends, GIs returning to Seattle take their veteran's benefits and start families. With the advent of the post-war Baby Boom comes a huge demand for all services related to families — including medical care.

Now, in 1945, closets and storerooms overflow, physicians must meet in the Playroom and the trustees surrender their board room for staff offices.

The Hospital Association buys an apartment house near the hospital and shuffles staff among available spaces with no appreciable relief to the overcrowded conditions.

The trustees begin discussing another facility expansion — and further broadening the hospital's scope beyond orthopedic care.

The First Faculty

The First Faculty University of Washington medical students receive instruction in pediatric medicine  

Also in 1945, the Washington State Legislature reviews plans to establish a school of medicine at the University of Washington — a proposal initiated years earlier by Dr. Vernon Spickard, a community pediatrician and physician leader at Children's Orthopedic Hospital.

In 1947, the first class of medical students begins their training, and the medical school dean asks Children's Orthopedic to be part of the curriculum.

In 1948, Dr. S. Allison Creighton is hired as a staff pathologist. As the first salaried full-time physician on the medical staff, Creighton spends one day a week at University of Washington instructing medical students and is one of the first Children's Orthopedic physicians to take a teaching appointment there.

A Great Find Not Without Dissention

A Great Find Members of the board of trustees scout the location for the new hospital in Laurelhurst  

Once the Children's Orthopedic Hospital Association Board of Trustees determines there is not enough space to build a new hospital at the current Queen Anne Hill location, trustee Dorothy Bullitt jumps at the chance to acquire a newly available 22-acre tract on Sand Point Way, not too far north of the University of Washington. Since large tracts of land are becoming scarce in Seattle, she puts down a $25,000 deposit to hold the site without even consulting the rest of the board.

On June 14, 1946, board chairman Frances Owen breaks with tradition and asks that board members vote by secret written ballot on the $150,000 land purchase and $5 million estimate to build a new hospital. Only one trustee votes no — and only she knows her identity.

When area residents get wind that a 170-bed hospital is being planned for their Laurelhurst neighborhood, they mount an organized resistance. More than 150 people attend a Laurelhurst Community Club meeting to hear Owen explain the hospital's plans. They vote 87 to 65 to oppose the hospital's rezone application to the city.

Undaunted, Owen mobilizes guild members to attend official city hearings. She promises the City Council that the new hospital will be no more than two stories high, set well back from property boundaries and have adequate parking. With these assurances, the rezone application is approved.

Putting Children's on the Map

Putting Children's on the Map We stand by the belief that no illness should rob a child of childhood  

In 1948, Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Bill arrives at Children's Orthopedic Hospital as one of the nation's first pediatric surgeons trained under Dr. Robert Gross at Boston Children's Hospital — the founder of pediatric surgery in the United States.

Bill is chief of pediatric surgery from 1966 to 1979 and establishes Children's Orthopedic as one of the first and best residency training programs in pediatric surgery and a center of excellence for pediatric surgery. Bill also serves as chair of the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Guilds Open to Diversity

Guilds Open to Diversity From the start, we have provided care to patients regardless of race, religion or gender  

Since Children's Orthopedic Hospital's beginning, trustees honor their pledge to treat all children regardless of race or religion; however, membership in the all-white guilds is by invitation only, which leaves Asian Americans and African Americans only one option: underwriting "named beds" or "named rooms" without being able to take part in guild activities.

By 1950, times begin to change. African American residents in Seattle's Central Area form the Idell Vertner Guild, named after a YWCA leader. In 1955, "a new colored guild" is named after Mary McCloud Bethune, founder of the National Council of Negro Women.