History

Philanthropy has played a significant role in the Children’s Hospital of Michigan since its inception.

For more than 125 years, thousands of caring people have contributed their time and treasure to support the health of children in our community. Every family who has come through the doors of Children’s Hospital has been touched by the compassion and generosity of those who gave to support children. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is honored to continue the charitable legacy of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan and to partner with Children’s and other organizations in our community to improve the health and well-being of children.

The Founding of Children’s Hospital of Michigan

In 1886, Dr. Charles Devendorf and a group of socially prominent Detroit women founded the Children’s Free Hospital Association which later became the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

Dr. Devendorf, a well-known Harper physician, began the Children’s Free Hospital Association on the ground floor of Harper Hospital in Detroit.

Dr. Devendorf convinced 17 Detroit women to help furnish a hospital bed and clothing for sick children regardless of race, religion or ability to pay. He told the women: “You have no idea how many poor men and women in Detroit lose their situations through being compelled to stay at home with a sick child. In this plan of ours we’ll not only do everything possible for the child, but in many cases prevent people from being thrown out of work and reduced to abject poverty. We will take the most hopeless cases. All the children who are suffering from want of care or illness in Detroit will be nursed and made well if we can do it.”

With the support of this group of socially prominent women, the hospital subsidized “free beds” in a rented space for the care of such children. They began with 12 beds and in two years expanded to 34 beds. It was Hiram Walker, however, who was responsible for taking Children’s Hospital of Michigan from a series of rented houses and barns to an admirable facility. The tragedy of losing his 13-year-old daughter, Jennie Melissa, inspired Walker in 1896 to donate $125,000 for a new building at St. Antoine and Farnsworth streets to Children’s Hospital. By 1915 a Training School for Nurses was established, along with a Social Service Department, Physical Therapy Department, a Dental Clinic and one of the first X-ray Departments in the country.

With the industrial growth of Detroit, Children’s Free Hospital had a further critical need for space for patients. Former Detroit Mayor James Couzens contributed $1million, and in 1922 the facility opened as the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. By 1953, Children’s offered over 30 pediatric specialty programs. In 1954, the Children’s Research Center was established to conduct scientific research in pediatric medicine. In 1957, Children’s Hospital became affiliated with the Wayne State University School of Medicine for teaching purposes. After further expansion, in 1971 the current hospital tower was dedicated. In 1991, the Carls Ambulatory Center was opened to meet the needs of increasing numbers of patients who were cared for on an outpatient basis.

Children’s Hospital Today

As a result of the vision and philanthropy of these dedicated individuals, Children’s Hospital has been able to help children for more than 125 years and has expanded its role in ways that Dr. Devendorf could never have imagined. As the only pediatric hospital serving metropolitan Detroit and one of the top children’s facilities in the nation, Children’s remains a crucially important resource for the state, ensuring children the best possible care when they need it.

Offering a broad range of primary and specialty pediatric clinical services, Children’s Hospital is dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to children, teens and young adults in a caring, efficient and family-centered environment. A proud member of the Detroit Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Michigan is the third oldest children’s hospital in the nation and the first and largest children’s hospital in the state. Children’s 228-bed facility has an international reputation in pediatric medicine, surgery and research, training more pediatricians than any other facility in Michigan. A leader internationally in neurology and neurosurgery, cardiology, oncology, and diagnostic services, it is ranked one of America’s best hospitals for children.

Children’s Hospital of Michigan also demonstrates significant commitments to research and to improving the health and well-being of all children and their communities. As a teaching hospital, Children’s medical staff is engaged in cutting-edge research, developing exciting new treatments and inspiring the next generation of doctors. As an advocate for children and families, Children’s Hospital provides community education and outreach to many thousands of participants each year. These activities include specialty clinics, immunization fairs, baby-sitting classes, car seat safety checks, and other safety and prevention education. Children’s is the lead agency for the Metro Detroit Safe Kids Coalition, a grass roots organization dedicated to eliminating preventable injuries. Children’s Hospital is also home to Michigan’s only pediatric burn center, only newborn screening follow-up and treatment program, and operates the only Poison Control Center in the state.

On December 30, 2010 the Detroit Medical Center, including the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, began a new chapter when they were acquired by Vanguard Health Systems, an investor-owned hospital company. This new relationship has brought significant new capital investment to improve Children’s facilities and services for children and families. The first investment, the new Children’s Hospital of Michigan Specialty Center–Detroit, slated for completion in June 2012, will house a variety of clinical services in an expanded, more convenient and accessible space.

The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation

In 2003, another group of passionate individuals came together with the intention of supporting the healthcare needs of children and established the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation. The Foundation was led by Cynthia Ford, a longtime volunteer and supporter of Children’s Hospital, with an ambitious mission–to support the healthcare needs of children by raising philanthropic resources to fuel pediatric patient care, medical education, research, and the prevention of childhood diseases and injuries. For seven years, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation successfully partnered with caring individuals to support the mission of Children’s Hospital to care for the health of children.

Now, the extraordinary sale of the Detroit Medical Center, and with it the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, to investor-owned Vanguard Health Systems, has brought changes and new opportunities for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation. The Foundation is honored to have been chosen to assume responsibility for preserving the Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s charitable legacy, along with the responsibility for supporting the charitable programs in pediatric research, medical education, and child health advocacy conducted by the Hospital.

Philanthropic contributions that were raised and designated for Children’s Hospital of Michigan have been transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation. In 2011, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette gave his consent for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation to receive the approximately $90M in restricted charitable gifts and endowments that had been donated to Children’s Hospital since inception. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is committed to effectively administering and stewarding these charitable gifts consistent with donor intent and the needs of children in our community.

Going forward, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is uniquely positioned to focus philanthropic efforts towards programs that address the health and well-being of children in our community. Vanguard’s investment in Children’s Hospital will allow the Foundation to shift the focus of our future fundraising from buildings and capital initiatives to pediatric medical education, pediatric-focused research and prevention of childhood diseases and injuries and other programs that truly get to the core of improving the health of children in our community.

The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization by the Internal Revenue Service and is and governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of community leaders, financial experts and committed philanthropists.