7 Surprising Facts About Children’s Hospital of Michigan

Since it was founded in 1886, Children's Hospital of Michigan has become the leader in specialty care for kids. But there's a lot you may not know about this local institution.

You already know that Children’s Hospital of Michigan offers outstanding specialty care for kids with everything from heart conditions to epilepsy to cancer and more.

But did you know Children’s Hospital of Michigan was the first hospital of its kind in the state when it was founded in 1886? And are you aware that Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s CEO, Luanne Thomas Ewald, is the first female to hold that position in the hospital’s history?

Read on for more surprising facts about Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

1. 12 founding foremothers

Children’s Hospital of Michigan, known as Children’s Free Hospital when it first opened, is the brainchild of 12 women in the city of Detroit. These women saw that babies were sick and dying in their homes. It was clear to them that there was a need for specialty care for children.

So, these women teamed up with Dr. Charles Devendorf – who, after being unable to help a dying little girl because the facilities were not available – also knew the community needed something more.

“Those 12 women just said, ‘This cannot happen’ – so they worked together with Dr. Devendorf to really help establish the Children’s Free Hospital,” Ewald says. “It was really the power of 12 women in the community that got together and said, ‘We need to do something about it.'”

When it was founded, it was first hospital of its kind in Michigan – and the third hospital in the country dedicated solely to the care of children. The first patient was admitted on Dec. 6, 1886.

To honor the founding foremothers in 2018, Ewald says Children’s Hospital of Michigan will have a special float in the annual America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit. Ewald works to honor them daily in her position as CEO, too. “I am here today to remember them and the legacy that they started.”

2. Founding the AAP

“Another cool fact that most people don’t know is the AAP was actually founded here,” Ewald says. Today, pediatricians consult the American Academy of Pediatrics – AAP for short – for advice and guidelines to follow when it comes to caring for patients.

The physician-trusted AAP was, in fact, founded in 1930 in the Library of Harper Hospital, which is also where Children’s Hospital of Michigan began years earlier. In 1980, the AAP celebrated its golden anniversary in the lobby of Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

“Members of (the AAP) are pediatricians and very active in lobbying for children’s healthcare and rights,” Ewald says. “A huge, huge kudos to the dedicated individuals within this hospital for really having a vision.”

3. Child-sized heart pump and Genesis Stent

“Both of these were created by two of our cardiologists here on staff – (and) are now being used across the country and internationally,” Ewald says.

Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s pediatric heart specialists were instrumental in securing FDA approval for use of a child-sized mechanical heart pump to improve care for children awaiting transplants, Ewald says.

In addition, pediatric heart specialists on staff helped develop the Genesis Stent, which is a life-saving device that opens blood vessels that grow with the child.

“It eliminates the need for a child to have open-heart surgery,” Ewald says. “It is always difficult for a parent to hear their child needs surgery, and the development of this device has allowed a less invasive alternative in appropriate cases.”

4. Highest level of pediatric specialty care

With more than 40 pediatric and surgical specialty services, it’s no wonder that the Children’s Hospital of Michigan not only welcomes patients from all over Michigan, but also children from 39 states and 22 countries.

“For many of our programs, we call them ‘destination services,’ because people travel here,” Ewald says.

That’s because the hospital has the highest level of equipment, Ewald says, for heart, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants. In addition, its regional burn center pulls patients from all over the country.

“We focus on those things that you really don’t get in the community hospital,” she adds.

5. Busiest pediatric emergency department in the country

The Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s pediatric emergency department sees more than 85,000 children each year, and is an American College of Surgeons certified level one pediatric trauma center.

“We just opened a brand-new emergency department downtown,” Ewald says. “The new emergency department was built just for children, using lean methodology to improve quality and efficiency.”

In addition, families are able to check-in online downtown or at the freestanding emergency location, Children’s Hospital of Michigan – Troy.

6. PANDA One intensive care transport team

The PANDA One team is a mobile extension of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, which transports neonatal and pediatric patients from hospitals all over Michigan – in addition to surrounding states and Ontario, Canada.

“When sick or injured babies and children need our help, we have two PANDA One units,” says Ewald. “These units are staffed with highly trained pediatric nurses prepared to safely transport these children to our hospital where we can provide the specialized care they need the most.”

These units have the proper equipment to treat children on the way to the hospital, which is so important – because every minute counts when it comes to critical care for children. “This service really, really helps to increase positive outcomes.”

7. Volunteer opportunities

Children’s Hospital of Michigan is home to more than 350 hospital volunteers who collectively devote more than 40,000 hours to the hospital each year.

“We’re always looking for more, and it’s a very rewarding experience for all 350 of these volunteers,” Ewald says. “We also have a teen volunteer program for high school kids.”

To learn more, visit the Children’s Hospital of Michigan website.


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