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Our History

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Since The King’s Daughters established the hospital in 1961, CHKD has undergone two major renovations and expansions and is now at the heart of a comprehensive system of caring dedicated exclusively to children. And we will always provide care for every child who needs it, regardless of the family's ability to pay.

Founding Women - The King's Daughters

The King's Daughters, a women's service organization that has worked to improve the lives of children in our community since 1896, founded our hospital in 1961.

Today, working through dozens of Circles comprising more than 1,000 members, The King's Daughters fill leadership positions on our boards and support us with funds, legislative advocacy and countless volunteer hours.

They define our past, support our present and help shape the future of our organization and the children we serve.

1896 - Our First Nurse - Edith Nason

The King's Daughters hired nurse Edith Nason. Miss Nason became a beloved figure in Norfolk, caring for the sick in the city's poorest neighborhoods. During her first year, she made 1,771 house calls on foot.

In her second year, The King's Daughters bought Miss Nasson a bicycle, so she could cover more ground. Families who could not pay for her services received them for free, establishing the foundation for charitable care that would come to define The King's Daughters.

1901 - Our First Home

The King's Daughters opened their first clinic at 304 Charlotte Street in 1901.

By this time, Miss Nason was one of seven visiting nurses who put their lives at risk tending to children with contagious illnesses like typhoid, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery and tuberculosis.

1916 - New Headquarters - The King's Daughters Children's Clinic

In 1916, after working out of several different locations in Norfolk, The King's Daughters purchased a residence at 300 W. York Street for their headquarters, which they named The King's Daughters Children's Clinic.

By this time, they also offered maternity services, dispatching a doctor and nurse to the homes of women in labor.

1919 - Transportation

The visiting nurses got their first car in 1919, after a prominent Norfolk businessman showed his wife $500 he'd won playing cards. She quickly relieved him of his ill-gotten gains, saying "since you can't give it back, you can give it to me for The King's Daughters."

1920s - Collaboration

The King's Daughters often collaborated with other organizations and businesses to achieve their goals, establishing some relationships that continue today.

Starting in the 1920's, The King's Daughters joined forces with many local groups including the Kiwanis Club, The Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch (predecessor of The Virginian-Pilot), the Lions Club, the Anti-Tuberculosis League, the Norfolk Health Department, and the Red Cross.

These partnerships and the countless others that have developed over the years all share the common goal of improving the lives and health of local families.

1930s - First Specialty Services Added: Ophthalmology, ENT and Orthopedics

By the 1930's, The King's Daughters Children's Clinic offered specialty care in ophthalmology, ENT and orthopedic care. The clinic had a lab and 26 beds, but funds were very tight.

Throughout these lean years, The King's Daughters rarely carried a bank balance of more than $100. Every penny went to the children.

1954-1961 - Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters is Built

In 1954, the King’s Daughters set in motion plans to build a full-service children’s hospital. The group raised almost $1 million and broke ground for Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in 1959.

The hospital was dedicated on April 23, 1961 and on May 5, staff admitted the first children to the new, 88-bed hospital.

Over the next year, 90 employees helped care for over 3,395 children, 48 percent of which were “service” patients who could not pay.

1962 - Accreditation and a New Residency Program

The King's Daughters and hospital administrator William Selvey soon led the facility to its first major milestone: its 1962 accreditation by the Joint Commission. A few months later, CHKD’s new residency program was also accredited. At the time, pediatric oncologist Dr. Melissa Warfield was the hospital’s medical director and its only full-time physician. In its first full year serving children, inpatient admissions accounted for 18,109 patient days.

1966 - New Services Announced and an In-Hospital Pharmacy Opens 

In 1966, volunteers launched a program that helped children adjust to being in the hospital, setting the stage for today’s clinical child life program, an essential component of patient care at CHKD. An in-hospital pharmacy also opened, and CHKD’s 17 specialty outpatient clinics were now treating more than 31,000 children annually.

To keep children from falling behind in their schoolwork, the hospital school program was created in 1969, with one fulltime teacher provided by the Virginia Department of Education. That same year, the hospital’s gift shop  opened, staffed then and now by King's Daughters volunteers. And CHKD’s specialty services expanded to include pediatric neurology, radiology, cardiology and endocrinology.

1970s - NICU, Urology and Transport Added, Talks of Expansion Begin

In 1972, when premature infants had a very low survival rate, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters opened the region’s first neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to help premature and ill babies grow and thrive. After the addition of the pediatric transport program in 1975, the NICU received hundreds of patients from across the region.

The specialty of pediatric urologywas added in 1973. By now, the hospital was crowded with new services and more patients. Discussions began about the need to expand the hospital.

1979 - Hospital Expansion Complete, Nephrology and Psychology Added to List of Services

In 1979, CHKD opened two additional floors. The now five-story hospital housed a full-service laboratory, dietary services, diagnostic clinics and nephrology, psychology services and two dedicated intensive-care units: the NICU for newborns and the PICU for all other children.

And the now-familiar CHKD blocks logo became the hospital's enduring trademark. 

1981 - Transport Service Expands, In-House Chaplaincy Service Begins

Our pediatric transport program expanded its services through a second transport van and an in-house chaplaincy program began  in 1981; until then those services had been provided by volunteer chaplains. And CHKD’s second president and CEO, Steve Perry, took the helm from William Selvey, who had served the hospital for 21 years. 

1984 - Children's Health System was Established

In 1984, CHKD’s forward-thinking leadership established Children's Health System as the region’s only pediatric health-care system. CHKD Foundation also came into being that year, and inpatient admissions accounted or 36,823 patient days, double what they were when the hospital opened.

1985 - Pediatric Surgery Program Expands, Pulmonology Added 

The hospital introduced the region’s only pediatric surgery program with the addition of eight operating rooms, taking another leap forward in healthcare for Hampton Roads children. The following year, CHKD added pulmonology services. and the transitional care unit which helps children who depend on technology make the transition to home or long-term care.

Also that year, the hospital’s new neonatal/perinatal outreach program began coordinating services with other area hospitals for high-risk newborns.

1986 - Therapies, Thrift Stores and Transitional Care

In 1986, an inpatient physical/occupational therapy center was opened, as was the first CHKD Thrift Store, sponsored by The King’s Daughters. Today, the region’s 22 CHKD Thrift Stores contribute more than $2 million annually to the health system.

The hospital responded to another vital need a year later by opening a 12-bed transitional care unit to assist children who depend on technology make the transition to home or long-term care.

1987 - Nuss Procedure 

In 1987, CHKD pediatric surgeon Donald Nuss began working on a new surgical procedure to correct the most common chest wall deformity in children. His innovation, known as the Nuss Procedure for the correction of pectus excavatum, heralded a new era in minimally-invasive surgery for children and put CHKD on the map as the international leader in the treatment and research of pediatric chest wall deformities.

Ten years later in 1997, Dr. Nuss presented the new Nuss Procedure at an international surgery conference, officially launching his widespread adoption of the minimally-invasive procedure developed at CHKD.

1994 - A New Hospital is Built with the Region's Only Pediatric Emergency Center

In 1994, CHKD opened a brand new hospital that was three times the size of the previous one. This advanced healthcare headquarters for Hampton Roads children now offered the region’s only pediatric Emergency Center and housed 166 inpatient beds, as well as outpatient services. And with the brand-new hospital came a new president and CEO: Bob Bonar.

1996 - Expanding Care - First CHKD Primary Care Practices Open in Hampton Roads

In 1996, five primary care pediatric practices joined Children’s Health System, the beginning of the CHKD Medical Group which now consists of approximately 100 pediatricians in 18 practices from Elizabeth City to Williamsburg.

The following year, Children’s Surgical Specialty Group was established, the region’s only multidisciplinary pediatric surgery practice, which offers board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric surgeons in general surgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, plastic surgery, neurosurgery and urology.

1999 - Child Abuse Program Begins

In 1999, CHKD assumed operational and funding responsibilities for the region’s newly established child abuse program, which now coordinates the efforts of medical, legal and law enforcement agencies on behalf of abused children throughout the region.

The Child Abuse Program minimizes further stress to these child victims by providing a supportive, child-friendly environment in which to begin the healing process.

That same year, the Health System launched its popular website, bringing knowledge of CHKD services and providers and important children's health information to area families with the click of a mouse.

The hospital also opened the region's only pediatric acute inpatient rehabilitation unit and acquired its first MRI equipment.

2000 - First CHKD Community-based Health Centers Open in Hampton Roads

The new millennium marked the first step in what would become an important strategic initiative for CHKD. CHKD opened the first multi-service, community-based Health Center in Chesapeake, bringing CHKD’s signature services closer to families. Six more health centers and satellite locations around the region soon followed. View a list of all of our health centers and when they opened here.

2001 - Meeting Community Needs - Healthy You for Life and Reach Out and Read Programs Begin

CHKD became one of the first hospitals in the nation to address the growing public-health concern of childhood obesity by launching its Healthy You for Life weight management program. The program addresses diet, exercise and self-esteem by giving children the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy decisions.

Reach Out and Read, a program that fosters literacy, also started at CHKD’s primary care practices in 2001. At each well-child visit, children receive free age-appropriate books to help encourage families to read together.

2002 - CHKD Opens Larger and More Sophisticated Cardiac Lab

Many of the congenital heart defects that once required open-heart surgery could be repaired using minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedures.

CHKD opened a larger and more sophisticated cardiac catheterization lab to serve children of all ages, correct life-threatening problems with shorter recovery times and fewer risks than open-heart surgery.

2003 - New Leadership and a New Sports Medicine Program

In 2003, CHKD established the sports medicine program for young athletes in Hampton Roads. Board-certified pediatric specialists offer complete care, from diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans for active children and teens.

The sports medicine team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists that provide children with the most comprehensive care available.

That same year, our current president and CEO, Jim Dahling, assumed leadership of CHKD Health System.

2004 - CHKD Services Open on the Peninsula

In 2004, CHKD opened the region’s first pediatric outpatient surgery center exclusively for children on the Peninsula at CHKD’s Health and Surgery Center at Oyster Point.

Peninsula families now had access to many outpatient services, including sports rehabilitation, diagnostics, therapies, primary care and specialists, as well as surgery, all under one roof.

2005 - Buddy Brigade Brings Love and Comfort

In 2005, CHKD’s Buddy Brigade of pet therapy dogs began dispensing smiles, cuddles and kisses. 

2006 - Electronic Medical Records

We launched eKiDs, a major upgrade of our clinical information and medical records systems, in 2006. Through a phased implementation system, our eKiDs team has moved many of our clinical services from paper and pen to electronic record-keeping and communications, ushering in improvements in quality, patient care and safety along the way.

2008 - Diabetes Center, Interpreter Program and a New Surgery Center

CHKD’s diabetes education center began helping thousands of children learn to live with diabetes in 2008. Also that year, child psychiatry was listed among CHKD specialties, and the hospital’s interpreter program was introduced, with more than 70 volunteer and staff interpreters helping patients in 19 languages.

The year 2008 also saw the opening of the 62,000-square-foot CHKD Health and Surgery Center at Concert Drive. Now close to home for Virginia Beach families were X-ray, MRI, ultrasound, lab and audiology services; occupational, physical and speech therapies; a fully equipped sports medicine gym; and two primary-care pediatric practices.

2009 - Pediatric Hospitalists, New Health Center Opens in Chesapeake

Even though the term hospitalist was just coined in 1996, by 2009 pediatric hospitalists were already coordinating patient care at CHKD. These in-house physicians provide comprehensive coverage from admission through discharge, while communicating with primary care pediatricians on diagnostic and treatment regimens.

2013 - Hospital Lobby Redesigned

In 2013, CHKD completed a redesign of the hospital’s entrance, lobby and first floor walkways to improve patient access and traffic flow, and create an inviting welcome for CHKD families.

The following year, CHKD celebrated the opening of a renovated outdoor play deck on the “roof” top. The 1,550-square-foot play area features playground equipment for children of all abilities, an art area and covered tables so kids in the hospital can still have outside playtime.

2014 - The King's Daughters Milk Bank Opens at CHKD

In 2014, CHKD established The King’s Daughters Milk Bank – the first of its kind in Virginia – and began processing donated mothers’ milk for medically fragile infants.

Operating under the guidelines of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, the milk bank ensures the safety of donated milk by careful screening, lab testing and pasteurization techniques.

2015 - CHKD Opens the Region's First Urgent Care Just for Kids

In 2015, CHKD opened the region’s first Urgent Care Center exclusively for infants, children and teens on Volvo Parkway in Chesapeake.

Now, with additional locations open and several coming soon, more than 25,000 visits are made to CHKD Urgent Care Centers across the region each year for strep tests, sprains, stitches and more.

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Today, CHKD remains Virginia’s only freestanding children’s hospital and one of only 47 in the nation. CHKD has grown from its original 88 beds to 206 beds. Even more important, it is the heart of the region’s only comprehensive health system dedicated exclusively to children, now staffed by more than 3,100 employees working throughout an expansive region.

(757) 668-7000