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Our History

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt began as a dream. Together with a group of committed volunteers, the hospital partnered with an existing children’s facility. This partnership helped lay the strong foundation that has grown into a state-of-the-art, nationally ranked standalone facility.

Vanderbilt Medical School faculty member David T. Karzon, MD had a vision to create an entire hospital that would serve the health care needs of children and pioneer significant change in the area of pediatrics. Dr. Karzon, who eventually chaired the Pediatrics Department of Vanderbilt Hospital, developed the "hospital within a hospital" model and established various centers that specialized in children's services.

Within two years, the brand new Children's Regional Medical Center was formed, adopting a three-prong vision:

  1. Deliver the highest quality medical care to children
  2. Create a special environment for children and their families
  3. Serve as a resource that is responsive to the community

In 1971, a group of community-minded women approached Dr. Karzon about forming a support group of volunteers who would raise funds and create public awareness. The Friends of Children’s Hospital was made official a year later.

The Dream Continues

For a dream to have a lasting effect, a committed, focused team must understand its goal. In 1980, this team met its goal when the Children’s Hospital facility was completed, and all patients residing in the Children’s Hospital and Junior League Home for Crippled Children were housed under one roof.

The founding medical director for the Children's Hospital was the man who held tight to the dream longer than anyone: Dr. David Karzon. He served as medical director for many years, succeeded in 1988 by Ian Burr, MD. Under Dr. Burr’s leadership, Children's Hospital grew to include more than 29 subspecialties. Dr. Burr also played a vital role in planning the new standalone Children’s Hospital.

Our Timeline

Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has grown to become one of the top hospitals in the U.S., and has gained worldwide recognition for providing state-of-the-art care for children and their families.

The Junior League of Nashville Home for Crippled Children opens.

Shriners of Al Menah Temple volunteers to help with the Palm Sunday Paper Sale.

The Junior League of Nashville officially dedicates the Junior League Home for Crippled Children.

Vanderbilt opens a new ward in pediatrics dedicated to polio patients, one of only 10 in the nation, which brought the hospital national recognition. This ward, planned by Dr. Amos Christie, became the basis for the landmark "hospital-within-a-hospital" concept. A different mentality was emerging among doctors, nurses and medical educators that children have unique health needs best provided in a place just for them. 

The Salk vaccine against polio is first administered at the hospital.

In October of 1961, a baby girl with severe hyaline membrane disease is born at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Facing a life-or-death situation, Dr. Mildred T. Stahlman puts her research into action with a bold experiment to use a negative-pressure breathing machine scaled down for premature baby size. The baby recovers. Respiratory therapy becomes a tool for treating infants in respiratory distress.

Dr. Mildred T. Stahlman founds the nation’s first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Vanderbilt University Hospital.

After several years building support within the community and university, Dr. David Karzon persuaded the Vanderbilt Board of Trustees to establish the Children's Regional Medical Center (CRMC), which was housed within the existing Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The Junior League Home for Crippled Children, an acclaimed freestanding hospital with a long history in the community, officially moved into the CRMC. The name changed to the Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University.

Doctors treat 20,000 children from Middle Tennessee, Southern Kentucky and Northern Alabama as outpatients.

A modified milk truck becomes the first Angel ambulance, equipped to provide neonatal intensive care on wheels.

The groundbreaking for the new Vanderbilt University Medical Center is held.

The Children’s Hospital staff expands to include 44 board-certified doctors.

On Sept. 12, patients are moved to the new Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt, located on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Children's Hospital is named the primary beneficiary of the Iroquois Memorial Steeplechase.

Children’s Hospital collaborates with 22 other hospitals as a founding member of the Children’s Miracle Network.

Vanderbilt Medical Center’s LifeFlight helicopter service begins transporting pediatric patients.

Vanderbilt Medical Center obtains a $1.2 million third-generation, state-of-the-art CT scanner for both adult and pediatric patients.

Surgeons at the hospital perform the first pediatric heart transplant at this location.

The first-ever pediatric bone marrow transplant is performed at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

The NICU initiates the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program to provide prolonged heart-lung bypass to infants, allowing their underdeveloped lungs to rest and heal.

The Junior League of Nashville Family Resource Center is created to provide easy access to health and medical information.

The Junior League of Nashville establishes the Respite Care Center for weekend care of chronically ill children, giving home caregivers a rest.

The Pediatric Emergency Department, funded by a grant from Friends of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, opens to the public.

Friends of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital provides funding and volunteers for A Time for Remembering, a formal means of supporting families who have lost a loved one.

A new technique that speeds up the process of stripping toxic ammonia from the blood of newborns is pioneered.

The Cumberland Pediatric Foundation is established, facilitating seamless access to the advanced medical care of the Children’s Hospital to a network of regional pediatric care providers.

The name Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is officially changed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Surgeons Joseph Bruner and Noel Tulipan perform the world’s first in-utero surgical repair of fetal spina bifida. The surgical procedure was pioneered at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, with the first procedure performed on Corey Meyer of Mt. Juliet, Tenn., and her unborn son, Daniel.

The Vanderbilt University Board of Trust proposes a freestanding children’s hospital.

Children’s Hospital receives the state’s highest-level designation as a comprehensive regional pediatric center.

Children’s hospital staff grows to include 103 board-certified physicians.

Monroe Carell Jr., CEO of Central Parking Corp., kicks off a fundraising campaign with a major donation for the new freestanding children’s hospital, which will bear his name.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt is held.

The Children’s Miracle Network raises more than $1 million for the first time in its 19-year history.

Champ becomes the official hospital mascot.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt opens Feb. 8 after five years of construction. The eight-floor, 616,785-square-foot facility is the largest building on the Vanderbilt Campus.

President Bush visits Monroe Carell and pays a surprise visit to Pediatric Critical Care Unit (PCCU) staff.

Surgeons perform the 100th pediatric heart transplant at Monroe Carell.

Rascal Flatts holds a concert raising $600,000 for Monroe Carell, becoming the largest fundraising event in the hospital's history.

Child magazine again names Monroe Carell as one of the top children's hospitals in the nation.

The Tennessee Poison Center, located at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, receives the 1 millionth call to its hotline service for poison emergency and information calls.

Pediatric Rehabilitation Services moves to its new facility in One Hundred Oaks. Other services follow to the new location.

Philanthropist, leader and hospital namesake Monroe Carell, Jr. dies on June 20.

Monroe Carell is ranked among the top 25 in the nation in six pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report.

The Children's Miracle Network's Radiothon and Telethon benefiting Monroe Carell raises $1.34 million.

The Berlin Heart ventricular assist device is used to serve as a "bridge" to transplant for babies.

Monroe Carell names the Pediatric Surgery Center for Rascal Flatts, the members of which have donated more than $3 million.

Tennessee's first Berlin Heart infant receives a heart transplant at Monroe Carell.

Vanderbilt begins offering groundbreaking fetal surgery to treat spina bifida.

A $30 million, 33-bed, 30,000-square-foot expansion opens.

Friends of Children’s Hospital gives $1 million to impact care and cures for prematurity. 

Vanderbilt University announces plans to build a four-floor inpatient expansion on top of the existing hospital structure. The expansion will bring Monroe Carell's inpatient capacity to nearly 1 million total square feet. 

The Growing to New Heights Campaign is launched to support the expansion of Monroe Carell.

Construction begins on four additional floors for the hospital.

The new tenth floor of Monroe Carell opens, featuring a 40,000 square-foot Pediatric Heart Institute.

Junior League of Nashville

For more than 90 years, Junior League volunteers and fundraising efforts have improved childhood health. Vanderbilt and the Junior League combined their efforts in 1970 with an agreement to move the Junior League Home for Crippled Children to Vanderbilt. We have been working together ever since to make a difference in the lives of children and families in our community.

A history of service

The Junior League of Nashville's first major project was opening the Junior League Home for Crippled Children in 1923. The home provided free convalescent and rehabilitative medical care for children with crippling diseases. The move to Vanderbilt allowed the Junior League to serve more patients and enabled third-party payments from insurance and government programs. The home was moved again in 1980 into the freestanding Children's Hospital, now called Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Today, Junior League volunteers give countless hours of service within programs at Monroe Carell.

Raising funds for care

Since 1970, the Junior League of Nashville has supported many programs with volunteers and financial resources targeting current health needs of children. Some of these programs include:

  • Junior League Family Resource Center
  • Junior League Child Life Specialist Program
  • Capital gifts to renovate a pediatric outpatient clinic and help build the freestanding hospital
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Development Follow-up Clinic
  • Junior League Fetal Care Program
  • Junior League Therapeutic Arts Program
  • Junior League of Nashville Sickle Cell Disease and Asthma Program

Junior League volunteers also host a wide variety of activities to support families, such as entertainment hours, movie nights and holiday gifts.

Junior League of Nashville
Phone: (615) 296-9393