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Our History

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Serving the nation’s children for more than 150 years, Children’s National Hospital has been an innovator in pediatric healthcare around the nation and around the world.

Children’s National was one of the nation's first children’s hospitals, opening in 1870 and growing from a modest 12-bed facility to a 323-bed facility that performs more than 17,000 surgeries and conducts more than 669,000 outpatient visits in more than 60 specialties each year.

Formerly referred to as D.C. Children’s Hospital, Children’s National is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Today, the health system includes primary care health centers, regional outpatient centers, and affiliated pediatric primary and specialty care practices throughout the metropolitan area, in addition to providing tertiary care in our main hospital. Additionally, we’re home to the Children’s Research Institute and the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, as well as the Children’s National Heart Institute, the Gilbert Family Neurofibromatosis Institute, the Brain Tumor Institute and the Obesity Program.

Throughout our history, we have witnessed tremendous growth and change in pediatric healthcare. The current marketplace is in the midst of unprecedented change, and Children's National is committed to staying in front of the curve.

View this area to learn more about our history, our growth, and our commitment to improving care for children. 

2011 to present

2011 to present









  • Second national summit is convened to advance mental healthcare for children.
  • Children's National launches "Grow Up Stronger" advertising campaign that speaks to the work we do, the families we support, and the kids we help.
  • Surgeons and scientists from Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at Children's National Health System are the first to demonstrate that supervised, autonomous robotic soft tissue surgery on a live subject is feasible and outperforms standard clinical techniques.
  • Children's National launches new Congenital Zika Virus Program.

  • Designated for a second time as a Magnet® hospital, a designation given to hospitals that demonstrate the highest standards of nursing and patient care delivery.
  • Grand opening of Seacrest Studios.
  • Becomes the first freestanding pediatric hospital to publish provider satisfaction ratings online.
  • New primary care offices open in Foggy Bottom and Capitol Hill.
  • Children's National doctors use MR-HIFU to destroy bone tumors without scalpels or needles.


  • Fetal Medicine Institute (now Prenatal Pediatrics Institute) opens its doors at Children's National.
  • Children's National convenes first-ever national summit to advance mental healthcare for children.
  • Washington Business Journal announces Children's National Health System as the most powerful brand and Kurt Newman, MD as one of the most admired CEOs in the Washington, DC metro region.
  • Children's National is designated as national Ebola-ready treatment center.
  • Children’s National launches a redesigned website to engage and inform patients and their families.
  • The first Sheikh Zayed Prize for Pediatric Device Innovation awards $50,000 in funding to two winners.


  • Children’s redefines and repositions its brand, changing the logo and name for the first time since 1985 to Children’s National Health System, which reflects how we’re no longer just a hospital, but a comprehensive health system for kids—providing everything they need for their care, whether it is well visits, or a hospitalization.
  • One-of-a-kind Pain Medicine Care Complex, which revolutionizes the way children are treated for pain, opens.
  • Washington Nationals Diabetes Care Complex opens.


  • New Cardiac Intensive Care Unit opens.
  • Blood and Marrow Transplantation opens a new outpatient unit.
  • Outpatient radiology facility, the Montgomery County Regional Outpatient Center, opens in Rockville, Md.
  • Seven new operating rooms open as part of a phased overhaul to the entire OR suites, bringing totals to 17 operating rooms and two GI procedure rooms.
  • New research space opens for the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, possible by a historic gift of $150 million from the government of Abu Dhabi - the largest gift ever made to support pediatric surgery, and one of the largest to any children's hospital.
2001 to 2010

2001 to 2010

2010: Full-service satellite emergency department completed at United Medical Center in Southeast.


  • State-of-the-art 54-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit opens.
  • Children’s Research Institute expands to increase research space atop the main building, allowing for researchers to better serve families with world-class bench-to-bedside care.
  • Sheikh Zayed Institute opens; the Institute is named in honor of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE and the country's president from 1971 until his death in 2004. The medical center's main campus, the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Pediatric Medicine, is also named in his honor.

2007: New East Inpatient Tower opens, enhancing the expert, family-centered care at Children’s.

1981 to 2000

1981 to 2000

October 1990: The new rooftop helipad with state-of-the-art safety features is dedicated.

July 1990: The Ambulatory Infusion Center in the Department of Hematology/Oncology opens doors.

January 1990: The Center for Prenatal Evaluation a joint endeavor with The George Washington University sees first patient.

June 23, 1989: The Scottish Rite Center for Childhood Language Disorders is dedicated.

May 4, 1989: Groundbreaking held for west wing addition, relocation of helipad and expansion of parking garage.

April 1989: First heart Transplant performed on eleven-year-old girl.

May 1988: Kick-off of the National SAFE Kids Campaign

1988: First bone marrow transplant procedure performed.

1987: Facilities Enhancement Project approved and plans are made for additions and renovations.

November 1985: Special Immunology Team is established to treat HIV-infected patients and their families (now known as the HIV Prevention and Treatment Program).

July 1985: First satellite medical center opens in Fairfax, Virginia, offering specialty consultative services.

September 1984: The helipad is dedicated after Children’s is named a regional pediatric trauma center.

June 1984: ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) program begins.

June 1983: Children’s hosts first Children’s Miracle Network Telethon in conjunction with Osmond Foundation.

September 1981: Home Care program begins after Dr. Gloria Eng, chairman of Physical Medicine receives a one-year grant.

1961 to 1980

1961 to 1980

1978: Division of Child Protection established for cases of physical and sexual abuse.

June 1977: Patients are moved to new hospital.

March 1977: Dedication is held for the new hospital.

1975: The first physicians specializing in critical care begin to provide care.

1970: Groundbreaking is held at 111 Michigan Avenue site.

December 1968: Children’s Board of Directors decides to relocate and build a new hospital.

1968: The first exclusive pediatric internship is established

April 1968: Affiliation finalized with George Washington University. Children’s now has a formal university relationship.

January 1967: The Comprehensive Health Care Program begins.

1964: The new outpatient department, an intensive care unit and an open heart surgery program are established.

1963: Pediatric Surgery is established as a discipline and the surgery training program is initiated.

October 1962: Hearing and Speech dedicates its own two story building

1962: Affiliation signed with the Hillcrest Children’s Center to coordinate services for emotionally disturbed children.


1941 to 1960

1941 to 1960

March 1959: New building opens to house Research Foundation. It received major funding from the Variety Club.

1956: The adolescent medicine inpatient unit, the first of its kind in the United States, opens.

1955: Unique contract signed with Hot Shoppes Inc. (Marriott) to take over purchasing and preparing meals.

1953: The hearing clinic, Premature Nursery and Electroencephalography Laboratory is open.

1950: The well baby clinic founded by the Child Welfare Society becomes part of the hospital.

July 1948: Dr. Reginald Lourie appointed director of newly established Psychiatry Department

1947: The Research Foundation and the Department of Volunteers, financed by the Junior League of Washington are established

1945: West annex is built to house x-ray and laboratory facilities, as well as 20 additional beds.

1944: The scientific publication Clinical Proceedings is launched to publish medical articles.

June 1943: Completion of an addition to dispensary and an office for admitting officer.

1943: Wide use of sulfonamide drugs, followed by introduction of antibiotics such as penicillin.

1942: World War II brings a shortage of healthcare professionals, as well as an increase in population of Washington.

1901 to 1940

1901 to 1940

1940: Medical Library opens. Its roots began in the 1930s when Dr. John A. Foote (1873-1931) donated his books.

January 1939: Blood Bank opens

1936: Opening of new building to house heating/laundry plant

1934: School of Nursing closes. Children’s continues to provide a post-graduate curriculum in pediatrics

1932: The Child Guidance Center, predecessor of today’s Psychiatry Department opens.

1930: Social Services Department is established by the Junior League of Washington

October 29, 1929: The stock market crashes beginning the Depression of the 1930s.

1928: Child Welfare Society continues preventative care efforts of Infant Welfare Station by opening a clinic.

1924: Central wing added, brining bed capacity to 177 and housing for interns.

1918: World War I brings a shortage of nurses and physicians

1914: Infant Welfare Station is opened to provide nourishment and preventive care for infants and children.

1910: First private (paying) patients admitted when two additional wings, running north and south are erected.

1860 to 1900

1860 to 1900

May 1894: A 12-bed baby ward is opened to care for children under the age of 18 months.

1892: Training program for nurses, which began in 1888, now formally shares students with Columbia Hospital

1890: The west wing is opened, bringing the total beds to 162.

1887: The first medical students from George Washington and Georgetown Universities begin training at Children’s

October 1, 1878: The central, or administrative building and the east wing of the new hospital is completed

1875: The hospital begins its first “letter campaign” to solicit residents to become members of Children’s Hospital

June 1875: Land purchased for construction of new hospital at 13th and W Streets, NW

February 11, 1871: The first patients are admitted to the 12-bed hospital housed in a rented rowhouse

December 5, 1870: The “Children’s Hospital of the District of Columbia” is incorporated

1865: The end of the Civil War.