100 Years

1979 to 1983: From Town to Gown

The First CEO

The First CEO CEO Treuman Katz speaks to a reporter  

When a search firm contacts Treuman Katz about a CEO opportunity at Children's Orthopedic in Seattle, he politely declines. After all, Katz, executive administrator of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, runs a 1,000-bed hospital where indulging celebrities is a perk of the job.

For example, he allows Zsa Zsa Gabor's three poodles to stay in her room and approves Elizabeth Taylor's need for violinists to serenade her while she eats pizza imported from Burbank!

However, the recruiter is persistent, and the 36-year-old Katz finally agrees to fly to the Northwest in late May 1979 and meet key hospital leaders.

Every step of the way, Katz finds something to like and even to excite him.

Katz decides that transforming a metropolitan pediatric hospital into a regional medical center that could serve thousands of children each year is an opportunity that he cannot pass up.

He steps into the new position of chief executive officer on September 10, 1979.

Innovating for Children

Innovating for Children Parents know their children best and are an important part of the healthcare team  

Dr. Robert Hickman puts Children's Orthopedic on the map in 1979 by devising new ways to use the catheter that now bears his name. Used for nutrition, blood draws and delivery of chemotherapy, the Hickman catheter eliminates the need for repeated needle sticks in children.

Hickman patents his catheter and donates a substantial share of his royalties to the hospital.

The Penny Drive Passes On

The Penny Drive Flyer advertising the Penny Drive circa 1940  

Hired in 1980, Doug Picha leaves his position as executive director of the Variety Club and comes to Children's as director of community relations. He adds a direct-mail campaign to complement the Penny Drive and receives a standing ovation from the board of trustees when he reports that this new combined approach nets the hospital $200,000.

By 1984, guild members are finding door-to-door fundraising less successful, as many householders are no longer home in the evenings and on Saturdays. Picha recommends that the Penny Drive be retired in favor of more cost-effective fundraising strategies such as direct mail and cultivation of bequests. The board reluctantly agrees and the Penny Drives joins the Pound Party as a cherished piece of Children's heritage.

This once-profitable fundraiser is memorialized as the name of one of the hospital's major thoroughfares, Penny Drive.

Children's Hospital Foundation

In 1982, Community Relations director Doug Picha becomes director of the Children's Hospital Foundation when this separate fundraising entity is established with a new 15-member board of trustees.

Children's Hospital Foundation Patients enjoy time in Children’s Playroom  

In forming the foundation, the hospital trustees retain control of the hospital endowment — donations of money and property that are invested to create future income rather than cover current costs or capital projects.

Foundation trustees set a minimum of $25,000 for an endowment, and later raise this amount to $50,000. By 2005, more than 350 separate endowments generate income for uncompensated care, research, education, and even toys.

An Aerial Solution

Harborview Medical Center develops a region-wide emergency care plan so that critically ill patients are transported by the Seattle Fire Department's Medic One emergency vehicles to hospitals best equipped and organized to treat their conditions. Children's Orthopedic is assigned responsibility for the emergency care of all younger patients.

Unfortunately, even Medic One gets stuck in traffic, and for critically ill patients, minutes are often a matter of life and death.

An Aerial Solution Airlift Northwest  

A regional planning team, including Children's inpatient director and licensed pilot Dr. Ron Lemire and leaders from Harborview, the University of Washington Medical Center and Providence Medical Center begin to investigate aerial transport options for critically ill patients.

On May 17, 1982, hospital leaders formally launch Airlift Northwest at Boeing Field with a twin-engine turboprop airplane that can reach most of Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (WAMI) without refueling.

Children's trains four nurses to care for pediatric patients in flight with the help of a communications system that keeps them in contact with a physician throughout the trip. Any physician within the four-state WAMI region can request that a child be evacuated to Children's Orthopedic. If the mission is deemed appropriate, the team, including an on-call nurse, can be airborne within one hour of dispatch.

With the success of this new aerial transport system, the four hospitals investigate the use of helicopters for emergency transport and apply to the city of Seattle for permits to establish helipads at their own facilities.

Some of Children's Orthopedic's Laurelhurst neighbors object to the noise and safety of landing a helicopter so close to their homes and turn to legal and political means to block city approval of the helipad. The controversy descends into a whirlpool of litigation, hearings, press coverage and acrimony.

On September 28, 1992, after eight years of conditional use permits and environmental impact studies, the Seattle City Council grants final approval of a helipad just steps away from Children's Emergency Room. In 1997, the Laurelhurst Community Club expresses its support of the helipad.

Airlift Northwest becomes a nonprofit entity in 2002, with Children's owning a one-sixth interest in this vital emergency transport service.

From Town to Gown

In July 1981, Children's Orthopedic CEO Treuman Katz hires Dr. John Neff from Johns Hopkins as medical director after Dr. Jack Docter retires.

Neff is instrumental in transforming the hospital's medical staff from community-based physicians who volunteer their time at Children's Orthopedic to full-time hospital-based physicians associated with the University of Washington School of Medicine.

From Town to Gown Dr. Peter Mansfield  

Soon after Neff arrives at Children's, the agency that credentials hospitals takes issue with the fact that Children's surgical chief, Dr. Peter Mansfield, is a community physician with his own practice who serves at the hospital only part time.

Prior to the early 1980s, community surgeons operate on patients at Children's Orthopedic because of the outstanding pediatric anesthesiologists and the remarkable nursing staff. Many of these surgeons also receive pediatric surgical training at the hospital. For example, Mansfield, who starts modern cardiac surgery at Children's Orthopedic, trains many surgical residents who go on to open private practices in the region.

When CEO Treuman Katz offers Mansfield a full-time position as chief of surgery, Mansfield declines to give up his practice; however, community physicians such as Mansfield continue to attend at the hospital, serve on hospital committees and participate in search committees for hospital leadership.

Children's Orthopedic also makes a commitment to the community not to get into the business of pediatric primary care, except in areas where community pediatricians do not practice, such as at the Odessa Brown Clinic in Seattle's Central District.

In 1983, Neff and Dr. Jack Shilling, chair of the University of Washington Department of Surgery, hire Dr. David Tapper away from Harvard Medical School. Tapper comes on board as chief of Surgery at Children's Orthopedic and head of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at University of Washington School of Medicine.

Over his 19-year tenure at Children's, Tapper bridges the gap between the University of Washington Department of Surgery and Children's Orthopedic. He transforms a regionally respected surgical department into a fully accredited, nationally sought-after surgical training program that includes every surgical specialty. He also serves as president of the American Pediatric Surgical Association.