September 1983

Phoenix Children's opens its doors within Good Samaritan Medical Center.


Camp Rainbow, a summer camp for children with cancer and blood disorders, opens in Prescott with 27 kids attending.


Phoenix Children’s Foundation is founded. Children’s Miracle Network Telethon, the first major fundraising event, raises $210,233.


Phoenix Children’s Intensive Care Nursery is the first in Arizona to introduce extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), an advanced form of life support.


The Emily Anderson Learning Center, a pediatric health library, opens to the public.


Dr. Leigh McGill performs a 10-hour surgery to reattach 7-year-old Brian Bogert’s arm after it was severed when he was hit by a truck.


Dr. David Moss successfully removes half of 14-month old Zachery Leber’s brain to stop continuous seizures.


The Foundation’s inaugural Beach Ball raises more than $121,000.


The Bill Holt Clinic opens, becoming the first pediatric clinic in Arizona for children with HIV/AIDS.


The heart and hand logo is introduced.


The Crews’n Healthmobile, a mobile medical unit, begins providing medical care to children and adolescents experiencing homelessness.


The Children's Heart Center opens.

May 25, 2002

Phoenix Children’s opens a new freestanding hospital at 20th Street and Thomas Road, including Arizona’s first pediatric emergency department.


Phoenix Children’s and Mayo Clinic introduce the Valley’s first pediatric blood and marrow transplant program, with 14-year-old Ashley Robinson undergoing the hospital’s first bone marrow transplant.

November 2003

Robert L. Meyer takes the helm as Phoenix Children's President and CEO.

Setting a New Course

20 years of progress under President and CEO Robert Meyer

Building a freestanding children’s hospital was undoubtedly necessary for the community. But construction, coupled with operational challenges, almost bankrupted Phoenix Children’s in the early 2000s. That is, until Robert L. Meyer came into the picture.

Meyer was brought in as a consultant in 2002 to help the board turn the hospital around. But after meeting with the physicians and staff, he was struck. “From the beginning, I was so impressed with the passion—of the physicians, of the board, of the families, of the community for that matter—to make this work,” says Meyer. “And so it became clear to me that we had to find a way.”

And he did. “Doing turnarounds is always difficult, but it’s easier when you have support—and we had support,” he says. “By the end of 2003, we were profitable.”

Under Meyer’s leadership, Phoenix Children’s embarked on a two-decade push to build destination programs, including cardiac, oncology, neuroscience and orthopedic units—all focused on family-centered care. The hospital has invested in learning and development, health care education and geographic expansions to make pediatric care more accessible in Arizona.

“We were one of the first hospitals to adopt family advisory councils,” Meyer
says. “And when we asked our families what they needed, the one thing we kept hearing again and again was ‘access.’ That’s when we started to expand with our ambulatory and urgent care centers.”


The hospital launches the first comprehensive pediatric epilepsy program in Arizona.


The East Valley Specialty and Urgent Care Center opens.


The Ronald McDonald House opens on the Thomas Campus.


Phoenix Children’s is designated as a Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center, the only one in the state.


Phoenix Children’s and the University of Arizona College of Medicine announce the formation of the Department of Child Health at the medical school.


Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s is established.

June 2011

A new 11-story tower opens on the Thomas Campus, part of a $588 million expansion.


The first heart transplant in the hospital’s history is performed on 22-month-old Jesus Pereya.


Garth Brooks leads the celebration of the opening of the Child Life Zone, a 3,800-square-foot play area.


Arizona’s first and only Down syndrome clinic opens.


The Bubba Watson and PING Golf Motion Analysis Lab opens to help children with gait abnormalities.


Phoenix Children’s opens a new $40 million Emergency Department and Trauma Center.


At age 10, Gabriel Gonzalez becomes the youngest patient in the world to receive a total artificial heart, which keeps him alive and healthy until a donor heart becomes available.


A study led by Michael Kruer, MD, director of the Pediatric Movement Disorders Program, shows that genetics may play a role in causing cerebral palsy.


Phoenix Children’s becomes the first-ever health system in the U.S. to use the Medtronic Stealth Autoguide platform, a robotic guidance system, for neurosurgery.


The COVID-19 pandemic kicks efforts to develop a telehealth program into high gear.


Phoenix Children’s launches WATCHER, an early-warning system that alerts a patient’s care team when the patient’s condition is at risk of deteriorating.


Give-A-Thon, the country’s largest radiothon for a children’s hospital, tops the $2 million mark for the first time.


Vladimir Kalinichenko, MD, PhD, is appointed director of the Phoenix Children’s Research Institute at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix.

July 2023

A freestanding emergency department opens at Phoenix Children’s – Avondale Campus.


Phoenix Children’s Hospital – East Valley, a five-story hospital on the campus of Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, is scheduled to open.

Phoenix Children’s – Arrowhead Campus, a three-story hospital in Glendale, is projected to open with 24 inpatient beds, an emergency department, a surgery center and a multispecialty clinic.

Why your donations matter

Steve Schnall, Phoenix Children’s Chief Development Officer, Foundation, on the transformational effects of philanthropy

Q: Why was it important to build an independent children’s hospital?

Children are not little adults. They have very unique health care needs, and so having a consolidated children’s hospital allows us to have a depth of resources and expertise that provides a very different standard and level of care than an adult hospital that offers pediatrics can. For example, an adult hospital might have one pediatric cardiologist, one pediatric oncologist on staff. At Phoenix Children’s, we’ve got more than 35 pediatric cardiologists and almost 20 pediatric oncologists. We have a whole team of doctors who treat only kids with brain tumors.

Q: How does philanthropy fuel growth?

Looking back at old photos and seeing the timeline here reminds me of all we have accomplished, and it makes me all the more grateful for the support of our community. The truth is, we wouldn’t be what we are today without the generosity of our donors. Sure, we would have the lights on and would provide the best possible care to children, but we wouldn’t have the funds we need to open new locations around the Valley so more families can access care, to purchase new equipment and the latest technology that makes a difference for our patients, and to bring in renowned specialists and researchers who will change the future of pediatric medicine.

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