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History of Care

Over a century ago, the first children's hospital in Fort Worth opened with 30 beds and a Promise to provide every child in the area access to medical care. From these humble beginnings Cook Children's has grown to become one of the largest and most recognized freestanding children's health care systems in the southwest with over 1 million patient encounters each year through our more than 60 pediatric medical offices and specialty clinics. And as we continue to grow, one thing remains the same: the Promise we made long ago, and intend to keep for generations to come.

Our beginnings

Free Baby Hospital in 1918

What is known today as Cook Children's Health Care System began with two visions of delivering health care in Fort Worth that eventually merged into one commitment to improve the health and well-being of the children we serve locally, nationally and around the world. Here is where our story begins.

The first children's hospital in the area began with the organization of the Fort Worth Free Baby Hospital on March 21, 1918, under the leadership of Mrs. Ida L. Turner, a former postmistress. Named for its access to care for infants and toddlers, regardless of a parent or guardian's ability to pay, the hospital was first located at 2400 Winton Terrace West, near the present campus of Texas Christian University. All of the building materials and furnishings for the hospital were donated, and in 1922, a second floor was added to the building to accommodate older children and adolescents. Eventually, the hospital was renamed Fort Worth Children's Hospital. In 1961, under the leadership of Mrs. Nenetta Burton Carter and the Woman's Board of the Fort Worth Children's Hospital, a new facility was completed at 1400 Cooper Street, adjacent to the Harris Methodist Hospital. This facility continued to operate independently until 1985, when it merged with what was then Cook Children's Hospital.

W.I. Cook Memorial Hospital 1929

The roots of the former Cook Children's Hospital go back to January 29, 1929, when the W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital opened at 1212 West Lancaster Street in Fort Worth. The original hospital, designed in Italian Renaissance architecture, had 55 beds. Mrs. Missouri Matilda Nail Cook dedicated the oil royalties from the Cook Ranch near Albany, Texas, to build and sustain the hospital's mission. When the polio epidemic was spreading in the United States in 1952, the board of trustees of the W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital studied the special needs of children, voted to expand the facility to 72 beds with a special grant from the Tom B. Owens Trust, and changed its mission to care exclusively for the needs of children. Thus, the trustees renamed the facility Cook Children's Hospital, which continued to operate independently until the 1985 merger with the Fort Worth Children's Hospital.

The 1980s

The 1980s brought about a major turning point. Dr. Walton Lawrence, shares the inside story.

In 1980, under the leadership of Mr. I. Jon Brumley, the two children's hospitals in Fort Worth formed the Children's Hospitals Coordinating Board and began negotiations to merge their facilities. The original eight members of the Coordinating Board were M. Ward Bailey, Robert M. Bass, I. Jon Brumley, Charlie L. Hillard, J. Walton Lawrence, Jr., D.D.S., Joe K. Pace, John M. Stevenson, and Edward E. Stocker. In April 1982, Mr. Russell K. Tolman was hired by the Children's Hospitals Coordinating Board to administer the hospitals jointly and plan for their ultimate combination. In September 1982, during a combined board meeting, the medical staffs of the two hospitals, under the leadership of Hinton H. Hamilton, III, M.D., requested permission from the boards to combine into a single staff.

At the same combined board meeting, the trustees discussed the need to proceed with the combination of the two hospitals. This was enthusiastically approved. After architectural and financial feasibility studies were completed in 1983, trustee Robert M. Bass served as Chairman of the Merger Committee and hired the law firm of Kelly, Hart & Hallman to bring the matter before the 141st State District Court, presided over by Judge James Wright. After several days of testimony regarding the benefits of a new pediatric hospital, Judge Wright approved the "Plan of Merger and Combination" in January 1985. On April 29, 1985, Robert M. Bass was elected the founding Chairman, with John M. Stevenson, Vice Chairman, R. Denny Alexander, Treasurer, and M. Ward Bailey, Secretary. Construction on the new 183-bed Cook Fort Worth Children's Medical Center started in 1987 and was completed in May 1989. The name was eventually shortened to Cook Children's Medical Center.

The 1990s

The early 1990s were a period of rapid change in the health care industry. HMO's and managed care were driving down the cost of health care insurance by contracting with hospitals and physicians. To improve the health status of our community's children and to prepare for the era of managed care, the board of trustees formed the Cook Children's Health Care System in December 1995. The system consisted of Cook Children's Medical Center, Physician Network of nearly 200 pediatricians and specialists, Home Health, and Health Plan, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center and Health Foundation.

The 21st Century

Cook Children's Health Care System 21st Century

As the 21st Century began, Cook Children's added more than $100 million in new facilities to serve the children of North Texas. Cook Children's Northeast Hospital, offering outpatient surgery and urgent care, opened in Hurst, Texas, in 2001. Also in 2001, a child development center operated jointly with Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, and a parking garage opened on the medical center campus. In 2003, a $53 million addition brought a four-floor patient pavilion and critical care areas to the medical center and increased bed capacity to 282. In 2004, a fracture clinic, urgent care center and heliport were added to the medical center campus. Continued construction added more heart center catheterization and heart surgery facilities to the medical center in 2005.

By 2010, we recognized the need for preventive care beyond our walls. We established The Center for Children's Health to provide the infrastructure to help us sustain our Community-wide Children's Health Assessment & Planning Survey (CCHAPS) and the resulting initiatives born from the data. Through CCHAPS, we identified seven child health issues: abuse, access to care, asthma, dental health, mental health, obesity and safety. In response, we are teaming up with others within our six-county service area to develop targeted plans of action to tackle these issues.

By 2012, our health care system reached exponential growth. Through the historic expansion of our medical center, we've nearly doubled the size of our campus. Bringing together our inpatient and outpatient services, we integrated the point of care while paying particular attention to enhancing the patient and family experience. By expanding our programs, services and amenities, we've augmented our capacity to meet the growing need for our services and transformed how we will care for generations of children. We also expanded our services into the community with the expansion of our Neighborhood Clinics, urgent care centers, pediatric offices, and the Dodson Specialty Care Center.

The next few years included a commitment to providing our patients with the very latest in medicine, advanced technology and treatments, as well as life-saving research. Today, we are one of the largest freestanding pediatric health care systems in the nation. Our ever-expanding services have even extended to a global reach, resulting in the development of our International program, which is now one of the leading programs of its kind in the southwest.


Our big year of moves on campus and around the area began with the first occupants of the new South Tower: Lab, Blood Bank and Pathology on the lower level.

On Jan. 18, families in Haslet get a new medical home with the opening of a new Primary Care Clinic.

Three members of the Cook Children's family were named 2016 Healthcare Heroes by Fort Worth Business Press: Dr. Jamye Coffman, Sandra Manning and Michelle Vinson.

The totals from our 2016 Employees Care campaign were record-setting with $786,550 pledged by employees.

Welcome home, Home Health! In a newly renovated 52,000 square foot facility, Cook Children's Home Health and Orthotics & Prosthetics now have all clinical, administrative and support teams in one place.

Cook Children's Healthy Me wellness program earned us a spot as one the Dallas Business Journal's 2016 Healthiest Employers in North Texas.

On Monday, March 21, we received re-designation as part of the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Magnet® Recognition Program. Continuing proof of the magnificent nursing that takes place here at Cook Children's.

Nurse Residency Manager Ann Louise Smith, PhD, CPNP, CNE, RN, was named to the 2016 class of DFW Great 100 Nurses.

Cook Children's had 58 Cook Children's Physician Network and privileged physicians make Fort Worth, TX magazine's annual Top Doctors list.

2016 Peak Performers of the Year were announced: Tim Muirheid (Health Care System), Tonia Bridges (Health Plan), Cynthia Gallegoz (Home Health), Kathy Manthuruthil (Medical Center) and Stephanie Meyer (Physician Network).

The 2016 Great 10 Nurses announced: Beth Gunn, Julie Turner, Julie Van Orne, Rosa Boyett, Ceci Brown, Cassie Moritz, Janice Hennon, Gabby Chavez, Helen Ramsbottom and Marisol Sigala.

Congratulations to Scott Perry, M.D., on being named the latest recipient of a Distinguished Endowed Chair, which allows for the development of our Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.

In U.S.News & World Report's Best Children's Hospitals for 2016-2017, Cook Children's ranked in five out of ten specialities: Cancer #40, Diabetes & Endocrinology #50, Neonatology #42, Neurology & Neurosurgery #37 and Orthopedics #35.

On June 16, our Retail Pharmacy Transition Technicians delivered their 5000th prescription to patients at the hospital.

Epic was chosen for our new electronic medical record and our exciting 18-month journey to bring the 'Epicenter' to Cook Children's began.

The lower level of the South Tower got two more inhabitants: Sterile Processing Department and Central Equipment.

For the fifth straight year, Cook Children's IS Team was named to Hospitals & Health Network magazine's Most Wired Hospitals list for maximizing the capabilities of information technology to improve quality care and patient safety.

The Dillard Family Garden across from the South Tower was unveiled and dedicated on campus. This beautiful and serene escape for our staff, patient families and visitors was possible thanks to the generosity of the Dillard family.

We let the games begin when more than 60 teams (more than 200 employees) competed in our first-ever Employee Olympics in conjunction with the Summer Olympics in Brazil.

Our 1,000th bone marrow transplant was performed.

Cook Children's Urgent Care and Pediatric Specialties in Alliance opened on Sept. 12. The clinic boasts vibrant colors and carries a unique, fun superhero theme and spirit through its halls and more than a dozen urgent care exams rooms.

Paul Thornton, M.D., Medical Director of Cook Children's Hyperinsulinism Center, was named a Rare Disease Hero by Rare Disease Communications, which goes to five physicians each year for groundbreaking research and treatment in the rare disease community.

Cook Children's helped lead the charge to try to pass an essential piece of national legislation, known as the ACE Kids Act of 2015.

SVP/Chief Information Officer Theresa Meadows was named one of Dallas Business Journal's Women in Technology Awards.

Our child life internship became the first clinical internship in Texas to receive accreditation by the Child Life Council, and one of only eleven accredited programs nationwide.

Cook Children's Health Plan had a successful "go live" on Nov. 1 with the STAR Kids program. By this date, they had made outreach phone calls to all 8,400 of their new STAR Kids members.

At the Fort Worth Urgent Care Clinic, we saw patients on Nov. 1 in the expanded clinic space, which includes eight additional exam rooms.

Our seventh Neighborhood Clinic (Richland Hills) opened its doors.

Cook Children's won three awards at the Public Relations Society's Worthy Awards Gala: The Award of Excellence for CheckUp Newsroom, and the Public Service Worthy Award and Best of Show Award for drowning prevention awareness.

Cook Children's once again earned a place on The Dallas Morning News' list of "Top 100 Places to Work." This was our EIGHTH consecutive year on this list and made us one of only FOUR employers to receive this distinction.

Our South Rehab clinic relocated to a larger, renovated space in the old Home Health location.

On Dec. 5, we had our first patient in our new surgical/OR suite, located on the second floor of the South Tower. This new suite includes 12 new state-of-the-art operating rooms with specialized equipment for neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery, a 24-bed recovery unit, new T-3 magnet equipped iMRI suite and more.

At the Texas EMS Conference, Cook Children's Teddy Bear Transport received the Air Medical Service Award.

Under one roof, the primary and specialty care clinics of North Denton began seeing patients in an expansive new office.

Cook Children's Health Foundation was recognized as a "High Performer" by the Association of Health.

Looking ahead

Boy and dog looking to future

As one of the fastest growing areas in the United States, Cook Children's is continually looking ahead to meet the needs of a very diverse population. We've led off our vision with the addition of a new 7-story wing to our medical center campus. We also added a new emergency department with the latest technology medicine has to offer. In addition we are continuing to expand our health care system, adding additional primary care locations, specialty services, neighborhood clinics, home health locations and service areas, telemedicine, virtual visits, research programs, urgent care centers, emergency and transport services.

As the communities we serve continue to grow, we are committed to being there for parents and children every inch of the way.