King's Daughter Nurses History

Our History

(757) 668-7000

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.


1960s First HospitalAfter caring for children since 1896 through a visiting nurse program and then a Children’s Clinic,  The King's Daughters rallied the community and raised the money to build their dream: a hospital devoted specifically to children.

On April 23, 1961, these determined women were thrilled to dedicate Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters, a three-story, 88-bed hospital, where every child would be treated equally, regardless of their financial circumstances. On May 5, 1961, the first children were admitted to CHKD. In that inaugural year, the hospital had 90 employees.

1962 Bill SelveyThe 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.

Also that year, The King's Daughters hosted their first Holly Ball to raise funds for CHKD. Still held today, the annual holiday gala has become a beloved and popular event.

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 NICUIn 1972, at a time when premature newborns still had low survival rates, CHKD added the fledgling specialty of neonatology, opening the region's first NICU beds within the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Advancements in the field were fast and furious -- nationwide, neonatal mortality plummeted 41 percent between 1970 and 1979. Today thanks to continual advancements, the NICU now routinely cares for babies born as much as three-and-a-half to four months early.

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

1974 TransportIn 1975, CHKD established its signature pediatric transport program and began bringing critically ill children from other area hospitals to the pediatric experts at CHKD.

In 1979, thanks to unprecedented community support, the hospital opened its much-needed addition of two floors. Now CHKD had two dedicated intensive-care units: the NICU for newborns and the PICU for all other children. The five-story hospital also housed a full-service laboratory, dietary services, diagnostic clinics, and nephrology and psychology specialties. And the now-familiar CHKD blocks logo became the hospital's enduring trademark.


1985 Child LifeThe new decade kicked off with the pediatric transport program expanding its services through a second transport van. We established an in-house chaplaincy program 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.

In 1983, the ever-dedicated King's Daughters staged the first Holly Festival of Trees. 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.

A huge leap in health care for Hampton Roads children occurred in 1985. With the addition of eight operating rooms, CHKD introduced the region’s only pediatric surgery program. Also that year, the hospital’s new neonatal/perinatal outreach program began coordinating services with other area hospitals for high-risk newborns.

85 1st Surgery PatientIn 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 are dependent on technology make the transition to home or long-term care. In conjunction with its opening, CHKD added the specialty of pediatric pulmonology.

In 1987, CHKD pediatric surgeon Donald Nuss began working on a new surgical procedure to correct the most common deformity of the chest wall in children. Dr. Nuss' innovation, now 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.

As the 1980s came to a close, CHKD was taking part in a clinical trial of the first surfactant, a substance that keeps underdeveloped lungs from sticking together like flypaper, causing suffocation. Surfactant has since saved thousands of premature babies whose failing lungs would otherwise have caused death or catastrophic brain damage. The development of surfactant has ushered in many other technologies that have produced better results for younger infants – to the point that doctors often reflect on the vastly different outcomes in the pre-surfactant and the post-surfactant eras.


1994 BuildingThe ’90s arrived with another CHKD first: the hospital performed its first cochlear implant surgeries, bringing sound to hearing-impaired children.

By 1991, 12 years after its addition of two floors, the hospital was again squeezed for space and began planning for the next major expansion.

In 1992, we launched Children's Health Line at (757) 668-7500 to help parents find doctors for their children and access other CHKD services. Children's craniofacial program opened and the cardiac program expanded to include the telemetry and cardiac catheterization units. We also added rheumatology to our list of specialty clinics.

The year 1994 saw one of the most significant events in CHKD’s history: the opening of a brand-new hospital that was three times the size of the previous one. This state-of-the-art health-care headquarters for Hampton Roads children now offered the region’s only pediatric Emergency Center and 166 inpatient beds. And with the brand-new hospital came a new president and CEO: Bob Bonar.

1990 NussIn 1996, five primary care pediatric practices joined Children's Health System, making our services to the region's children much more comprehensive. Today, CHKD Medical Group consists of approximately 100 pediatricians in 15 practices from Elizabeth City to Williamsburg.

A year later, we established Children's Surgical Specialty Group, the region's only multispecialty pediatric surgery practice, which offers board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric surgeons in general surgery, orthopedics and sports medicine, plastic surgery, neurosurgery and urology.

1999 AbuseAlso in 1997, Dr. Donald Nuss presented his new Nuss Procedure to correct pectus excavatum at an international surgery conference, officially launching the widespread adoption of the minimally-invasive technique developed at CHKD.

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

The Health System launched its popular website,, on the cusp of the new millennium, bringing knowledge of CHKD services and providers and important children's health information to area families with the click of a mouse.

In the late '90s, the hospital also opened the region's only pediatric acute inpatient rehabilitation unit and acquired its first MRI equipment.


2001 WeightThe year 2000 marked the first step in what would become an important strategic initiative for CHKD. We opened our first multi-service, community-based CHKD Health Center in Chesapeake, bringing CHKD's signature services close to the homes of our families. Six more health centers and satellite locations around the region would soon follow.

In 2001, CHKD became one of the first hospitals in the nation to address the growing public-health concern of childhood obesity by launching the Healthy You weight management program for children and teens. In the years since, Healthy You has evolved into a comprehensive treatment module that combines lifestyle education, exercise, emotional support and clinical care.

Reach Out and Read, a program that fosters literacy through book giveaways at well-child pediatric visits, started in CHKD's primary care practices in 2001. Since then, CHKD's pediatricians have bestowed thousands of copies of Goodnight Moon and other beloved children's classics to area families.

2001 Roar PalmerBy 2002, many of the congenital heart defects that once required open-heart surgery could be repaired using minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedures. To accommodate increased demand for this service, CHKD opened a larger and more sophisticated cardiac catheterization lab in 2002.

Our current president and CEO, Jim Dahling, assumed leadership of CHKD Health System in 2003.

In 2003, young athletes got a boost from CHKD when we established our Sports Medicine Program.

Peninsula families were happy to learn of the 2004 opening of CHKD’s Health and Surgery Center at Oyster Point. Now many outpatient services, including sports rehab, diagnostics, therapies, primary care and specialists, were all under one roof and much more convenient to children in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County and Williamsburg. In 2005, we opened the region's first pediatric outpatient surgery center exclusively for children at the same location.

2005 Buddy PatientIn 2005, CHKD’s Buddy Brigade of pet therapy dogs began dispensing smiles, cuddles and kisses. Later in the year, we also dedicated our new  cancer and blood disorders center, which was designed specifically to make the lengthy outpatient visits our hemonc patients make more efficient and comfortable.

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.

As the community around us grew, so did our community outreach programs. In 2007, those programs reached more than 19,000 families with informative classes and lectures. We also made pediatric MRI services more convenient that year by offering mobile MRIs.

2007 MRIIn 2008, CHKD’s diabetes education center began helping thousands of children learn to live with diabetes. Also that year, child psychiatry was now 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.

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.

That same year, CHKD’s Health Center at Oakbrooke opened in Chesapeake, with surgical group practices, audiology, lab, radiology, specialists’ offices, sports medicine, a sports medicine gym, outpatient clinics, and physical, occupational and speech therapies. The center also houses an aquatic therapy pool, sleep studies unit and a primary-care pediatric practice.

2010 CHKD Exterior TreesBy 2010, Children's Medical Group of primary care physicians had grown to comprise 15 practices in 24 locations throughout Hampton Roads, from Gloucester to Elizabeth City, N.C. And at the hospital that year, inpatient admissions accounted for 54,207 patient days, triple what they were when CHKD opened.

At its half-century mark in 2011, 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.

Today CHKD remains Virginia’s only freestanding children’s hospital and one of only 47 in the nation.

(757) 668-7000

Search Options Find a Doctor