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In 1897, the idea for a children's hospital in Colorado began with summer tent hospitals for babies inspired by Dr. Minnie C.T. Love. Denver's high-country ventilation was touted as a cure for a variety of diseases. Using a mix of fresh air and Colorado sunshine, six medical staff and volunteer nurses treated up to 50 children under the age of five.
Early on, those volunteers saw a need for a "permanent" hospital that would "care for sick, injured and crippled children from birth to 16 years of age, irrespective of sex, creed, color, nationality or place of birth," that would be supported mainly by volunteer contributions. With that lofty goal to guide them, this same group of intrepid volunteers officially incorporated as Children's Hospital Colorado on May 9, 1908, substituting bricks and mortar for canvas tents in the process.
Patient volumes have increased dramatically since our early years, but advances in medicine have made it possible to treat more children as outpatients without a hospital stay.
In 1909, Children's Hospital Colorado converted a former residence at 2221 Downing Street into a "well equipped institution with a capacity of 30 beds," admitting its first patients on Feb. 17, 1910.
As the demand for child healthcare services increased throughout the region, the hospital quickly outgrew its original location and raised more than $200,000 to build a new and improved facility, which opened in 1917 at 19th Avenue and Downing Street in downtown Denver. The "beautiful, new, green and white" building opened with 100 beds and with what The Denver Post described at the time as "every article of equipment known to science."
Medicine in the 20th century represented a "golden age" of unprecedented innovation. From the use of X-rays for medical diagnosis to the advent of antibiotics and polio vaccine, medical research helped reduce the rate of mortality from childhood diseases dramatically.
In 1900, life expectancy in the United States was 48 years. By 2004, it had increased to nearly 78 years thanks to new drugs, surgical procedures and treatments for diseases once thought to be incurable.
Against this backdrop and throughout each decade of its 100 years of service, Children's Hospital Colorado has drawn upon its legacy of providing outstanding pediatric healthcare. A legacy that began in 1908 when volunteers pulled back the canvas flaps on their first tent hospitals to admit a child in need and continued with the opening of Children's Hospital Colorado's doors in 1910 and 1917 endures to this day as Children's Hospital researchers, clinicians and teachers open the doors to exciting advancements in pediatric care.
Children's Hospital Colorado has long been on the forefront of medical research, establishing a Research Foundation in 1953. The hospital and its affiliates at the University of Colorado School of Medicine are responsible for virtually all of the pediatric research published in the Rocky Mountain region in the past decade, as well as several internationally recognized medical milestones, including the discovery of toxic shock syndrome and development of new pediatric heart surgery techniques now used around the world.
After numerous expansions over the years at our downtown Denver location, Children's Hospital Colorado opened our new healing hospital on Sept. 29, 2007, at the juncture of I-225 and East Colfax Avenue. The 1.79 million square-feet hospital includes 318 beds and advanced medical equipment especially designed for children, as well as inspiring artwork and outstanding family accommodations.
Adjacent to the University of Colorado Hospital and the University of Colorado School of Medicine – the first university-affiliated biosciences park west of the Mississippi River – The new Children's Hospital is at the center of medical research in the Rocky Mountain region and promises continued advances in patient care in the years to come.