In 1890, a sewing circle, members of the King’s Daughters of St. Paul Episcopal Church, making sheets and blankets for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital wanted Columbus to have its own children’s hospital. This facility would take care of all sick children regardless of their race, creed or ability to pay. Therefore, on May 8, 1890 this group held a tea at the home of Mrs. James Kilbourne, 604 E. Town St., and raised $125. This money was the beginning of the fund to build a children’s hospital in Columbus.
On January 23, 1891 a founding group of men and women met to plan a hospital. A constitution and by-laws were drawn up, and Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Ohio Secretary of State on February 27, 1892.
The original nine-bed hospital was completed on December 30, 1893 at the corner of Miller and Fair Avenues on Columbus’ east side. The prevailing color scheme was blue and white, carried out in staff uniforms, chinaware, linens, bedding, etc. Under the original regulations, the hospital was open to patients between the ages of one and sixteen; no patient could stay longer than three months without a physician’s request and board review; and, no cases of infectious disease were accepted.
The first patient, Lucile Metzel, age 6, was admitted February 3, 1894, with a diagnosis of hip-joint disease and a family history of tuberculosis.
In 1900, an Elks wing was added that increased the number of beds in the hospital by 25. Throughout the first decades, the non-contagion rule proved almost impossible to enforce. One room had been designated a contagion room with one assigned nurse, should a case develop, but on several occasions so many cases of an interloping infection occurred that the hospital had to be closed to all other patients.
In 1916, the Women’s Board, which operated the hospital, had a budget of $10,000. Since this amount was not sufficient to meet the increasing expenses, Mrs. Truitt B. “Daisy” Sellers, President of the Women’s Board, met with a group of 42 women to form a fund raising auxiliary. On April 4, 1916, the Children’s Hospital Twig (Twig is an acronym that stands for Together With Important Goals) auxiliary was formed with 15 individual groups. Mrs. Sellers and Mrs. Kilbourne were both charter members of Twig 2. Raising money was not the only goal of the Twigs. Since the hospital needed supplies, each group as it was formed agreed to provide a specific item. Twig 26 supplied Dixie cups; Twig 32 soap; Twig 33 dental supplies; Twig 44 sugar; Twig 57 crib blankets; Twig 58 brown sugar; and Twig 62 baby bottle nipples. Some groups made surgical gowns, towels, sheets and diapers. One Twig did the grounds maintenance, a forerunner of all the Twigs’ flower and mulch sales.
Also in 1916 Children’s became affiliated with The Ohio State University.
From 1917 to 1943, the Women’s Board published a small monthly magazine, “The Bambino”, with articles about child care, the hospital and most importantly, “Twig Gossip”. This magazine was also a fund raising project with businesses purchasing ads and each copy costing 10 cents, or $1.00 per year.
Eventually, the hospital outgrew its original building and moved to new facilities in 1924 at 561 South Seventeenth Street, fronting Livingston Park. This facility had a capacity of one hundred twenty-five beds and accepted all types of cases except those of a contagious nature, the age limit being fifteen years. There was a free daily dispensary for general medical and surgical cases and a free daily dental clinic for hospital and dispensary cases. An eye, ear, nose and throat dispensary was open bi-weekly and crippled children had access to a free dispensary one day each week.
The hospital still exists although as a much larger facility and is now known as Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Additionally, it is home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
The archival collection of the hospital has recently been processed and the finding aid is available here.