Our History

Creating healthy tomorrows for all children

We provide advanced, specialized care for children of all ages with some of the most complex medical problems in our community and around the world. Founded in 1926, Johns Hopkins All Children’s was the first children’s hospital in the state of Florida.

We have continued to grow and remain at the leading edge of pediatric treatment and research. Backed by a legacy of medical innovation, we provide our patients with access to the latest treatments and technologies, while training tomorrow’s pediatric leaders. Read on to explore more about our history.

1916 – A Paralyzing Epidemic

In the early 1900s, a new and devastating disease began to ravage the children of America and Europe: poliomyelitis, also called polio or infantile paralysis. In 1916 there were more than 27,000 cases and 6,000 deaths due to polio throughout the United States.

There was no treatment nor cure for polio, which returned in epidemics and outbreaks every summer for more than 50 years. There was only quarantine — and in Florida, those without resources could end up at poor farms, working largely without wages or medical care.

Our Beginning – The American Legion Hospital for Children

The injustice that William “Doc” Huggins, a member of American Legion Post 14, witnesses at the poor farm inspires him to lead fundraising efforts to establish a special place, a haven for children suffering from the effects of polio and other crippling disorders. American Legion members sign a charter in December 1926 to create a new facility and new approach to community health focused on compassionate pediatric care, provided without regard for race, religion or ability to pay.

1927

Fellow American Legionnaire Frank Weiser helps his friend Doc Huggins raise money to convert a citrus packing house into the American Legion Hospital for Crippled Children. On its first day, the hospital welcomes seven polio patients who would reside there for care and therapy. By year’s end, 32 more children have received care.

1929

The establishment of the Florida Crippled Children’s Commission marks a new partnership between government, private organizations and state educational institutions to address public health concerns and help patients like those at the hospital.

1936

A second building is added to meet the demand for quality children’s care and long-term physical therapy.

1940s & 1950s

Throughout the 1940s the hospital continues to expand the range of treatment options for children with polio, incorporating exercise and physical therapy into treatment for atrophied or damaged limbs. Hydrotherapy, iron lungs and the use of X-rays for diagnosis and treatment are among the therapies used to give children the best chance for recovery.

1948-1950

A new and much larger facility is needed to accommodate the more than 450 patients hospitalized annually. Once again, efforts for community fundraising are led by the American Legion Post 14, joined this time by a new hospital fundraising group called The Guild. The new facility opens on Lakeview Avenue South in 1950 and includes operating rooms, with care provided by residents in orthopaedics.

1954

The hospital partners with the Pinellas County School Board to bring on a full-time school teacher to help ensure that children don’t fall behind their peers socially or in their education during their long stays. This inventive approach focuses on “treating the whole child” — healing and enriching minds and spirits as well as the physical ailments of young patients.

1960

A new building adds more than 5,000 square feet of enhanced facilities for rehabilitation, occupational therapy, a library and additional classrooms.

1961-1965

Thanks to the introduction of the Salk vaccine (1955) and the subsequent Sabin oral vaccine (1961), by the early 1960s the incidence of polio falls dramatically. After providing care for more than 12,000 patients over the course of nearly four decades, trustees of the American Legion Hospital for Crippled Children decide to transition the hospital’s focus from polio and similar challenges to a wider range of children’s illnesses. After four years of fundraising, the next era in the life of this important institution is ready to begin.

Our Mission – Establishing All Children’s Hospital

All Children’s Hospital opens its doors at 801 Sixth Street S., St. Petersburg, in 1967. Inspiration for the hospital’s new name is drawn from a line by the American poet Carl Sandburg: “There is only one child in the world and the Child’s name is All Children.”

In its first year, All Children’s Hospital cares for more than 600 patients. The first chairman of the board is William “Bill” Belcher, a local attorney and tireless advocate for the hospital and its patients. Though the hospital is no longer run by the American Legion, its new leaders adopt and continue the American Legion’s original mission: to care for all children regardless of race, creed or ability to pay — and they envision a future where All Children’s Hospital will be a regional leader in children’s health.

1968-1970

Dr. John Cordes, a beloved community pediatrician, is the hospital’s first chief of staff. In this first decade, community pediatricians and other community-based physicians provide the majority of inpatient care. The hospital was located alongside Mound Park Hospital (now Bayfront Health), a city hospital, and the two institutions often work together to improve the health of St. Petersburg’s children.

Dr. Louis Cimino establishes the hospital’s heart program and leads a newly built cardiac laboratory plus a team of nurses and technicians. All Children’s becomes one of the first hospitals to join the National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI). The NACHRI later becomes a part of the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), a non-profit that today represents over 220 children’s hospitals nationally to help advance children’s health.

1971

The hospital opens a small intensive care unit for newborns and children who need a higher level of care due to illness, injury or prematurity.

1973

All Children’s launches an affiliation with the newly opened University of South Florida College of Medicine. After serving on faculties at the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University, Dr. Allen W. Root is recruited to All Children’s to establish a pediatric endocrinology program and to lead the University Teaching Service, training the USF pediatric residents who rotate through the hospital.

1976-1979

New programs dedicated to specific areas of child health are established or expanded, including neonatology and a neonatal intensive care unit, where premature and critically ill newborns from across the region receive care. Pediatric heart surgery, cancer care and a cleft palate program are some of the key programs that draw patients from a growing geographic region.

1980s

Throughout the 1980s, the hospital continues to recruit physicians in a growing number of pediatric medical specialties to meet patients’ needs. Pediatric critical care, neurosurgery, otolaryngology and orthopaedic surgery are among these highly specialized programs.

In 1985, Dr. Robert Good, a recipient of the prestigious Albert Lasker Award and John Howland Award and known as a pioneer of modern immunology, joins All Children’s and the USF College of Medicine to lead a new pediatric immunology treatment and research program and the first bone marrow transplant unit in the Tampa Bay region.

The hospital forms an intensive care transport team to care for patients during transit and bring patients to St. Petersburg, often from considerable distances. The program becomes known as LifeLine in 2016. Children’s families find a friendly and supportive home-away-from-home in the newly opened Ronald McDonald House, the first House in Florida and the first of three such Houses on the hospital’s campus.

1984

The All Children’s Hospital Foundation is established to attract philanthropic support for the hospital, continuing the tradition of community involvement and partnership dating from the 1920s. All Children’s becomes an early member of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a national coalition dedicated to raising funds and building community awareness.

1986-1987

Inspired by an All Children’s patient, Florida U.S. Representative C. W. “Bill” Young plays an instrumental role in the creation of a national registry for bone marrow donors. With the help of physicians, patients, families and legislators across the country, Young works with Congress to secure federal funding to launch what is known today as The National Marrow Donor Program®/Be the Match®. Today the registry lists millions of volunteer donors and has facilitated transplants for tens of thousands of people.

The Development Council of All Children’s Hospital Foundation is established to instill community ownership in children’s health issues, creating a network of child advocates for the hospital. Many former members later become hospital and foundation trustees. The Council’s philanthropic efforts continue today in the form of the VIP Auction, one of the Foundation’s signature annual fundraising events.

1989-1990

The first USF endowed chair is established at All Children’s Hospital in 1989 by Ann and Andrew H. Hines Jr. In 1990, Gary Litman, Ph.D., fills that position and becomes chair in Molecular Genetics.

1991

Growth continues on the All Children’s Hospital campus, with a $20 million expansion completed in 1991 adding inpatient units and a larger outpatient surgery area. All Children’s joins Safe Kids USA (now Safe Kids Worldwide), a global organization dedicated to preventing injuries in children. Today, Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 600 coalitions in the United States and partners with organizations in more than 20 countries around the world to reduce unintentional childhood injuries and injury-related deaths. Jeane McCarthy, M.D., Ph.D., becomes the hospital’s first female chief of staff.

1992

From the day the American Legion Hospital for Crippled Children opened its doors, nurses have shared and shown heartfelt commitment to the children in their care. One of the hospital’s most influential nursing leaders is chief nursing officer (CNO) Betty Keith, who retires in 1992. She interviewed every candidate being considered for a nursing position during her tenure as CNO. Through a time of rapid growth in subspecialty care and services, she exerted steady and consistent guidance to promote nursing excellence and a workforce with knowledge, skills and compassion.

1995

A pediatric emergency center, the first in Tampa Bay, opens to give children with chronic health conditions round-the-clock access to their medical home. The center serves more than 100,000 patients in its first five years. All Children’s launches a neonatal and pediatric heart transplant program, providing lifesaving heart transplantation for patients even just a few days old.

The hospital’s first comprehensive outpatient center, All Children’s Specialty Care of Pasco, opens in New Port Richey. Similar centers open in Sarasota and Tampa the following year, part of a regional network of outpatient centers bringing All Children’s expert care closer to home.

1996-1997

West Coast Neonatology and Pediatric Physician Services are created as the employment entities for physicians recruited and hired to care for the hospital’s patients and families. The two entities become All Children’s Specialty Physicians in 2007.

2001

The Children’s Research Institute opens and soon is known as “the Band-Aid building” thanks to its large external sculpture of a bandage. It Heals Up: For All Children’s Hospital was created by pop artist James Rosenquist to let children know this is a place to help them heal. Funded through a gift by the All Children’s Hospital Foundation to the USF College of Medicine, the building is home to collaborative research programs in fields that include immunology and molecular genetics.

2005

All Children’s breaks ground for construction of a new 259-bed replacement hospital, outpatient care center, parking garage and central energy plant. At the time, it is believed to be the largest health care construction project in the Southeast. Patients, parents and staff provide input on the facility’s design.

2007

The Byler sextuplets, Florida’s first sextuplets, are born on Sept. 1, 2007. Brady, Eli, Ryan, Jackson, Charlie and Mackenzie are cared for in All Children’s neontal intensive care unit (NICU).

2010

The new hospital, designed for optimal healing, opens in January 2010. It features the latest technology and individual patient rooms where parents can comfortably spend the night with their child. Bright colors throughout the building along with an activity center, multiple playrooms and a “pirate ship” playground create friendly, calming surroundings for kids.

Our Future – Integration with Johns Hopkins Medicine

All Children’s joins the Johns Hopkins Health System as a fully integrated member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, the first U.S. hospital outside of the Maryland/Washington, D.C. region to do so. The integration opens up opportunities to develop new residency and fellowship training programs that address the challenges of practicing modern medicine. It also allows for the creation of a research enterprise focused on precision medicine. The integration combines the longstanding legacy of medical discoveries at Johns Hopkins Medicine with the legacy of All Children’s compassionate care for the future of children’s health.

2012

A new Center for Child Development and Rehabilitation opens on the hospital campus, helping children and families by bringing services such as speech therapy, audiology, occupational therapy and physical therapy under the same roof as programs for autism, pediatric developmental medicine, psychology and psychiatry.

2013

New research infrastructure is implemented to support the design, implementation and oversight of clinical and translational research programs. The first accredited pediatric biorepository in Florida launches, providing an organized way to store specimens at a uniform temperature and in a highly protected setting, ensuring their value in research.

Two new precision medicine-based studies are established:

  • Institution-wide Prospective Inception Cohort Study (iPICS) is designed to identify key predictors of outcomes in children with a variety of acute and chronic health conditions.
  • Prospective Research on Early Determinants of Illness and Children’s Health Trajectories (PREDICT) seeks to learn why some children, healthy at birth and in early childhood, go on to develop health problems.

2014

Dr. Roberto Sosa is named medical director of Johns Hopkins All Children’s International Patient Services after nearly 40 years as the leader of the hospital’s regional neonatology program. He helps develop medical education and research projects in Latin America, including his native Guatemala.

The inaugural group of Johns Hopkins All Children’s pediatric residents embarks on an innovative three-year program that unites training in clinical care with research opportunities and leadership development. The residency program is joined by new clinical and research fellowship programs that provide even more highly specialized training.

2015

Physician-led institutes and departments are formally established, creating an organizational structure that unites clinical care, education, research and advocacy and places patients at the center of the health care system. Joined by patients, staff, hospital and Foundation Board of Trustees, donors and the community, hospital officials break ground on a Research and Education Building.

Our Focus – Bringing Hope, Discovery and Cures

Ninety years after community leaders first envisioned a children’s hospital and five years after All Children’s Hospital joined the Johns Hopkins Health System, hundreds of employees and friends gather to celebrate another milestone. A new name — Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital — proudly unites a 90-year history of caring for the region’s children with a bright future as part of one of the world’s leading health care systems. Johns Hopkins All Children’s continues to move forward on its journey to become a national leader for pediatric medicine, bringing hope, discovery and cures to patients in Florida and around the globe.

2017

Johns Hopkins All Children’s residency program celebrates its first graduating class. Residents say the program’s strengths are its focus on education, leadership training and the ability to tailor the program to students’ individual interests. This pioneering class sets the standard to attract outstanding candidates for future classes.

2018

The Guild begins a new chapter as a fully integrated program of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation, strengthening collective philanthropic efforts to benefit patients and their families. The Research and Education Building opens, creating new opportunities for collaboration, training and research discoveries to deliver predictive, preventative, and precise care for the 21st century. The Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research is established to support basic science discoveries around what leads to the development of pediatric diseases and how to prevent them.

2019

The hospital and its nurses receive Magnet® designation in recognition of nursing excellence and the highest level of professionalism in nursing practice from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). This prestigious designation, which serves as the gold standard for nursing excellence, signals to nurses and patient families across the country that we are dedicated to both our nurses and quality care.