1930s and 1940s

The year 1933 saw the undertaking of an activity that would grow to become a Pittsburgh tradition. A child with a communicable disease was hospitalized at Children’s. The young boy was a patient for only three days, but his father was tremendously impressed by the work of the hospital. An editor for The Pittsburgh Press, the man went to his employer with an idea. And that year the Press printed a souvenir edition, and area business leaders walked throughout the region selling the special newspaper. Proceeds from the sale were donated to Children’s Hospital. And the Pittsburgh Press Old Newsboys were born. They were later joined by KDKA-Radio and TV to conduct one of the area’s larger annual fund-raising campaigns. Proceeds have always assured every child from the Pittsburgh area would have access to health care at Children’s.

As the Medical Center of the University of Pittsburgh grew, so too did Children’s relationship with it. In 1942 the hospital disbanded its nursing school to become part of the pediatric teaching unit of Pitt’s School of Nursing.

World War II found Children’s lacking facilities, material, and labor, largely due to the war. Numerous staff members and employees left to serve in the armed forces, so many area residents volunteered their services to the hospital. The most pressing personnel problem locally was shared by other hospitals throughout the nation – the supply of nurses.

Notes from an annual report: “With hospital occupancy at a record high in recent years, student enrollment in nursing schools has been declining. The gap between demand and supply has already reached dangerous proportions. Indeed, there have been occasions where some hospitals have had to close entire floors because of the lack of nurses. The Children’s Hospital has done better than most in providing adequate nursing. But the future is not promising unless much is done and done soon and on a national scale to make nursing more attractive to young women who are qualified for the training required to meet its exacting obligations. Higher salaries and better living conditions, among other things, are essential ingredients of any recruitment program which is to have a chance to succeed.”

By the late 1940s Children’s took on a new role as “hub hospital.” The hospital was now serving children from throughout the tri-state area of western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia.

Historical records show that “children were being sent from area hospitals and area physicians because Children’s Hospital had become a specialized medical center, able to render service in obscure diagnoses and difficult surgery for patients.”

Taken from the Spring 1990 issue of Children's Hospital's COLORS magazine

View from parking lot, 1930s

View from the parking lot, 1930's

Pharmacy, 1930s

Pharmacy, 1930's

Senior medical student taking patient history, 1930s

Senior medical student taking patient history, 1930's

Drawing insulin, 1940's

Mother and child on private floor, 1940's

Child in an iron lung, 1942