About Children's Mercy History
About Childrens Mercy History

Children's Mercy begins with two compassionate sisters

The founding of Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics is traced to 1897 and two sisters, Dr. Alice Berry Graham, a dentist, and Dr. Katharine Berry Richardson, a physician.

As the story goes, a saloonkeeper in the Kansas City Stockyards had heard of the sisters' reputation for helping poor, sick children and he told Dr. Graham of a woman he had seen in the streets trying to give away her crippled 5-year-old daughter.

Drs. Graham and Richardson found the girl abandoned, undernourished and poorly clothed. They arranged a bed for her at a small hospital on 15th and Cleveland in downtown Kansas City on June 24, 1897. The doctors established the Free Bed Fund Association and through painstaking care, they restored life to the orphaned child's crippled legs. With surgery and therapy, she walked again.

Their act of compassion and medical expertise was the beginning of what has become one of the leading children's hospitals in the world: Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.

Today, Children's Mercy includes two hospitals: a state-of-the-art hospital located at 2401 Gillham Rd. in Kansas City, Mo. The hospital is licensed for 301 beds, and 14 shorty-stay beds. Children's Mercy South, a 53-bed hospital in suburban Overland Park, Kan. In addition, there are bustling outpatient clinics and urgent care centers throughout the metropolitan areas and many other communities in Missouri and Kansas.


Significant dates in the history of Children's Mercy's

1897: Dr. Alice Berry Graham and her sister, Dr. Katherine Berry Richardson, open the Free Bed Fund Association of Sick, Crippled, Deformed and Ruptured Children with one bed at 15th Street and (now) Cleveland Avenue. Additional children were cared for in country and suburban homes.

1901: Central Governing Board of the Free Bed Fund approves the name Mercy Hospital.

1904: Mercy Hospital opens with five beds at 414 Highland Avenue; three years later ground is broken at the same location for a new hospital with 50 beds. First hospital auxiliary, the Maywood Club, sews garments, gathers food and cans fruits and vegetables. Dr. Robert Schauffler is the first male physician allowed to practice at the hospital.

1910: Bedside and classroom teaching begins, providing children with a way to keep up with their school work during prolonged hospital stays.

1915-17: $375,000 is raised to construct Children’s Mercy Hospital on land donated at 1710 Independence Avenue. The new hospital opens Nov. 27, 1917, serving as as home for Children's Mercy for 53 years.

1920s: Dr. Richardson establishes the first research laboratory at Children’s Mercy to study childhood diseases.

1922: Century Club Auxiliary forms to develop “curative playground” for patients.

1930s: The Great Depression puts increased financial pressure on Children’s Mercy; medical and surgical care is provided by volunteers, including medical school residents “moonlighting” and doctors “on loan” from other hospitals.

1936: Hospital annual budget is $140,000.

1948: Hospital dismantles isolation wards. This is the only major renovation at the hospital for more than 50 years.

1953: Dr. Wayne Hart begins work as hospital's first medical director and only full-time physician; establishes official residency program with the University of Kansas.

1954: Hospital budget is $686,000.

1958: Social Services department forms to better address non-medical needs of patients and families.

1961: The Children’s Convalescent Center (for the treatment of rheumatic fever) is renamed the Children’s Cardiac Center and moved to Children’s Mercy.

1962: Affiliation begins with the University of Missouri Medical Center (and eventually the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Medicine).

1964: Planning begins for a new hospital and a campaign launched that eventually raises $7 million for Children’s Mercy Hospital at 2401 Gillham Road.

1967: Nutrition Services program begins. Nearly half of patient referrals by 1971 are for childhood obesity. Supplemental Food program begins in advance of Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program in 1975.

1970: Patients move into the new Children’s Mercy Hospital Dec. 17; outpatient clinics open on Dec. 28.

1974: Patient education materials are printed in Spanish for the first time.

1982: Hospital budget is $30 million.

1983: “Continuing the Commitment” campaign begins to raise $12.5 million for renovation, expansion, new equipment, the Family Support Fund and more.

1987: The first pediatric specialty clinics and a separate outpatient surgery center open in Overland Park, Kan.

1992: “Centennial Campaign” fund-raising effort begins to meet growing patient needs. $68 million raised in two years. 

1993: Children's Mercy Home Care begins. First Child Life Specialist is hired, establishing a new emphasis on caring for the “whole child,” including psychosocial needs. 

1995: Hall Family Outpatient Center opens adjacent to Children’s Mercy Hospital. 

1996: Herman and Helen Sutherland Patient Tower opens. Clinical Pharmacology program is established, positioning Children’s Mercy at the forefront of medical research for children and medication.

1997: Children’s Mercy celebrates its centennial; named one of the Top 10 Children's Hospitals in the United States by Child magazine.

1997: Children's Mercy South opens in suburban Johnson County. Expansion to add inpatient beds and more clinic space is completed in 2004.

1999: Children's Mercy purchases a primary care pediatric practice in Wyandotte County which evolves into Children’s Mercy West/The Cordell Meeks Jr. Clinic in 2007.

2000: Paul and Betty Henson Patient Tower opens.

2003: Children’s Mercy is the first hospital in Missouri or Kansas to receive Magnet recognition for nursing and patient care quality. Establishes “sister hospital” relationship with Guangzhou Women and Children's Hospital in China. 

2003: Children's Mercy Northland opens with outpatient clinics and urgent care services in the north part of the metropolitan area. Clinic and Research Building opens on Hospital Hill. 

2006: Hospital budget surpasses exceeds $500 million.

2007: Don Chisholm Center opens on Hospital Hill.

2008: “Healthier Ever After” campaign begins to raise $800 million for new buildings, renovation, equipment and research.

2009: Center for Pediatric Bioethics opens.

2011: Children’s Mercy ranks in all 10 U.S. News and World Report specialties as one of the “Best Children’s Hospitals” in the United States. Fetal Health Center delivers first child; Children’s Mercy Broadway outpatient clinics open. Pediatric Genome Center opens to develop DNA tests to unravel the mystery of genetic diseases.

2012: Children’s Mercy East opens; Wichita clinics open; Hall Patient Tower opens on Hospital Hill.

2013: Clinics open in St. Joseph and Joplin, Mo. Children’s Mercy Blue Valley, with Sports Medicine and Urgent Care clinics, opens in south Overland Park.

 

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