A Dream Come True: A Premier Pediatric Medical Center Where No Child is Turned Away Due to an Inability to Pay
Children’s Hospital & Medical Center is known for providing world-class health care to any child in need. But many may not know of the visionary leaders who made this dream a reality.
While volunteering at an Omaha hospital, Mrs. Henry Doorly, the wife of the publisher of The Omaha World-Herald, overheard a conversation between an admissions administrator and two very worried parents holding a child, bundled up in a frayed blanket. The administrator explained that the hospital required a $10 deposit for admission and that the child could not be admitted because the parents did not have the required deposit. Mrs. Doorly stepped in and paid the deposit and guaranteed the bill so the child could be admitted. When she returned home, she recounted the story to Mr. Doorly, and told him that a hospital for children must be built in Omaha where no child would ever be turned away because of lack of ability to pay. That was in 1942.
Mr. Doorly’s determination became known, and he was introduced to Dr. C.W. M. Poynter. A much loved physician and dean of the University of Nebraska Medical School, Dr. Poynter had harbored a vision for a children’s hospital for twenty years. Dr. Poynter was convinced that the medical care of children would be dramatically improved in a hospital designed for and dedicated to the care of children. Together, Mr. Doorly and Dr. Poynter brought the appropriate people together to make plans for a new children’s hospital. After years of research, planning and raising funds in the community, Children’s Memorial Hospital of Omaha opened in March of 1948. The 100-bed facility admitted its first patient the next morning.
A Dream Realized
Today, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center continues to provide premier pediatric health care services to children, touching the lives of more than 100,000 children annually through its inpatient services, outpatient clinics and primary care pediatric offices. It is the only full-service pediatric specialty medical center in Nebraska. Patients are referred from throughout the region and across the world for the treatment of complex or unusual diseases, in addition to pediatric primary care. The dream of the Doorly family and Dr. Poynter is alive and well: at Children’s, no child in need of medical care is ever turned away due to an inability to pay.
In 2000, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center moved into its current home, a 292,030-square-foot facility at 8200 Dodge Street. The 145-bed facility has a total of nine floors and includes a 19-bed pediatric intensive care unit and a 46-bed newborn intensive care unit.
In response to a growing need for specialized and sub-specialty health care services for children, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center opened the new Children’s Specialty Pediatric Center in 2010. The five-story, 135,000-square-foot building houses 30 outpatient specialty clinics, as well as examination and procedure space designed specifically for children.
Community support for Children's Hospital & Medical Center has been a key factor in the success of Children’s since the days when Mr. Doorly sponsored campaigns in The Omaha World-Herald to raise money for the first hospital. The Children's Hospital & Medical Center Foundation was created in 1983 to raise awareness and manage and distribute funds donated by individuals, corporations and charitable foundations to support the care of uninsured and underinsured children needing treatment, as well as the wide-ranging programs and services offered at Children’s, many of which are not reimbursed by insurance.