100 Years

1960 to 1967: Taking a Public Stand

The Tide of Research

The Tide of Research Children’s patient receives an X-ray  

In the 1960s, increased research funding from the National Institutes of Health spawn incredible strides in medical knowledge. Along with the development of intensive care units for acutely and critically ill children, new techniques and therapeutic measures enable physicians to provide the very best care to patients.

What's in a Name?

In 1945, the idea of adding the identifier "medical center" to Children's Orthopedic Hospital's name is first suggested by trustee Dorothy Bullitt.

By 1960, less than 15% of the hospital's cases are orthopedic and Medical Director Jack Docter wants the word removed from the hospital's title. He argues that many highly qualified pediatric interns, residents, researchers and non-orthopedic specialists are confused by the hospital's name and pass up job opportunities.

What's in a Name? Hospital exterior  

However, after spending half a century making "the Orthopedic" a household name in the Northwest, the trustees cannot make such a huge leap. In a compromise of sorts, the board formally changes the institution's name to "Children's Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center" on March 3, 1963.

As soon as the new name appears in medical and nursing journals, the hospital experiences a surge in intern and staff applications.

An Angel in Disguise

An Angel in Disguise Milnor de B. Roberts breaks ground for new research wing  

Research is a major activity that distinguishes a medical center from an ordinary hospital; yet the small amount of space dedicated to laboratories at the newly christened Children's Orthopedic Hospital and Medical Center cannot begin to accommodate the growing backlog of proposed investigations.

In 1950, Dr. S. Allison Creighton becomes laboratory director and his Department of Clinical Laboratories has two assistants, one microscope and one small room.

Fortunately, an angel named Milnor de B. Roberts offers a temporary solution.

Unmarried twins Milnor and Milnora de B. Roberts inherit substantial wealth and live in a large home near the University of Washington. Milnora is a longtime friend of the hospital and an early guild member. When Milnor's twin dies in 1961, he asks Business Manager Alice Sandstrom how best to memorialize his sister.

The answer is laboratory space, and Milnor is happy to honor Milnora with a gift of $280,000 to the hospital. The new Roberts Wing opens in 1964, increasing lab capacity by 50%.

The following year Milnor dies and leaves an additional $434,000 to the hospital to aid future construction.

Milnor's gift jump starts the Orthopedic's research growth. By the time Creighton retires in 1977, the laboratory has 95 specially trained employees and millions of dollars worth of specialized equipment.

A National Resource

A National Resource The Teddy Bear Clinic helps children learn about medical procedures  

Dr. Jack Hartmann joins the Children's research team in 1964 as head of Hematology and Oncology and investigates treatments for cancers, including chemotherapy following surgery. He brings psychiatrists, social workers and nurses together with patients and their families to help them deal with the long, uncomfortable, and not always successful therapies.

Hartmann also helps organize the Children's Cancer Study Group, an organization that coordinates national research studies to find more effective cancer treatments.

Research Under Scrutiny

Research Under Scrutiny Children’s physicians with patient  

Dr. J. Bruce Beckwith moves into Children's Orthopedic Hospital's new Roberts Wing to take over teaching and science in the expanded laboratory. He begins to study a rare cancer that affects the kidneys of young children. After Beckwith prepares a detailed clinical description, the condition is named Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome after him and a colleague in Germany.

While the hospital's research role grows, the trustees actively monitor the research programs, continuing to fret over possible negative publicity. They bar clinical trials on patients lest the public think the hospital is "experimenting" on children.

Taking a Public Stand

Taking a Public Stand Anti-fluoridation advertisement  

In 1952 and 1963, Seattle voters reject initiatives calling for the introduction of fluoride to public drinking water.

Although the board is well aware of the research that shows the benefit of fluoride as a tooth-decay retardant, they choose to remain silent during election time. After the second initiative fails, Dr. Abe Bergman convinces the trustees that they have a public responsibility where matters of child health are concerned.

In 1968, with the support of Children's Orthopedic's chief of staff, the trustees formally endorse a third fluoride initiative and the measure passes with a solid majority. After this, the trustees create a Legislative Committee to guide future healthcare endorsements in the political arena.

Political Medicine

Political Medicine Senator Warren G. Magnuson  

Dr. Abe Bergman is the third in-house clinician to join the Children's Orthopedic staff. Hired to lead the Outpatient Department, he was a patient at the Orthopedic at the age of 3.

Bergman makes his first public mark with an inquiry into "crib death." Together with Drs. Bruce Beckwith, George Ray and Donald Peterson, they author a paper on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

In 1965, the physicians organize a formal medical conference on SIDS, which in turn inspires major federal research funding via the National Institutes of Health.

The SIDS research teaches Bergman the value of the legislative process in solving public health problems, and brings him to the attention of Washington state's powerful U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson.

In the fall of 1966, the emergency room at Children's Orthopedic sees a rash of young burn victims whose pajamas and nightgowns had caught fire. Bergman knows this clothing can be made safer.

He invites Magnuson to tour the burn ward at Children's Orthopedic, and by 1967 the Flammable Fabric Act Amendment mandates flame-resistant sleepwear for children.