Hospital to mark 100 years of helping children

On Jan. 4, 1907, a woman named Anna Clise and 16 of her friends came together, each with a $20 donation and a vision: to form an association that would provide health care to any child who needed it, regardless of whether the family could pay for the care.

One hundred years later, the vision lives on.

During February, Seattle Chil-dren's Hospital & Regional Medical Center celebrates its 100th anniversary. Throughout the year, the organization will honor its history in various ways, including a history wall on display in the hospital, the creation of a website where patients and doctors can share their experiences from Children's (storyproject.seattle and publication of a book documenting its history, due out in late 2007.

This month, a 100th-birthday celebration - complete with a tea party and fashion show - will take place Saturday, Feb. 24, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Shoreline Thrift Store, at North 160th Street and Aurora Avenue North.

A tribute

Clise pioneered the idea for Children's Orthopedic Hospital Association as a tribute to her son Willis, who died from inflammatory rheumatism in 1898.

A group of 24 members incorporated one week after the original group of friends came together. Clise became the association's pres-ident.

In its first year of operation, Children's Hospital treated 13 children and had 11 volunteer physicians. Children's now holds 250 patient beds and, in 2005, treated about 76,000 children, with 460 hospital-based doctors.

The hospital caters to both young children and teens through facilities such as the playroom, where the younger patients can read, paint and watch magicians, and the Teen Zone, where patients 12 and older can play Xbox or use the computers.

"Children's is unique," said Dr. John Neff, former medical director of Children's for 25 years, "because there are no competing interests. When you walk in the door, you can just tell that everything and everyone is devoted to the care of children."

Not only is Children's recognized for excellence in surgical care, but the organization boasts renowned research facilities.

In 1956, the trustees formed a committee with local physicians to fund small research projects.

Then, in late October 1997, Chil-dren's teamed with the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Institute to form the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Throughout the century, doctors at Children's also have made ground-breaking discoveries, including the identification of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by Drs. Abe Berg-man, Bruce Beckwith, George Ray and Donald Peterson.

Continuing mission

What started as a small group of people who believed in the importance of making pediatric care accessible to all, has progressed into what is now a 24-acre, advanced research and surgical facility in Seattle's Laurelhurst neighborhood.

U.S. News & World Report magazine recognized Children's as one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation in 2006.

Clise's aspiration to make child health care a priority is still reflected a century later in Seattle Children's Hospital's mission that "all children have unique needs and should grow up without illness or injury."

"The people [who work at Seattle Children's] are wonderful people, dedicated to what they do," Neff said. "It's been wonderful to work at an institution whose mission you truly believe in."

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