In the 1960’s, hospitals in the Long Beach area only had pediatric units that were primarily devoted to surgery. At that time, children under 13 in California were not allowed to go into a hospital and visit ill parents or siblings, nor were any family members allowed in the hospital’s nursery.
Dr. Harry Orme, the city’s first pediatric cardiologist, learned about an innovative concept called “patient and family centered care”
He fell in love with the idea — and as a physician himself — he knew that families, including siblings, where a key part to a patients’ recovery. He began to work toward the establishment of a children’s hospital in Long Beach that would embody the patient and family centered care philosophy and change the culture of pediatric health care. Development and fundraising for the new
Long Beach children’s hospital.
To help fund the construction, Orme enlisted the support of a successful Long Beach contractor,
Earl B. Miller and his wife, Loraine H. With a generous donation by the Miller family and the community, the development of the new children’s hospital began. The planning and construction went into the works and the city of Long Beach and it’s community members were in full support. Due to the overwhelming support of Long Beach’s philanthropic community, the hospital was completely paid for by the time it opened.
The pediatric hospital opened in 1970, with many innovative patient and family centered care features, such as patient rooms to accommodate a parents’ overnight stay. Miller Children’s opened with 65 active pediatric physicians and surgeons along with services such as an expanded NICU, cleft palate program, allergy, ENT, endocrine, urology and general surgery.
In the 1980s, the immunology department, pediatric psychiatry, pediatric genetics and pediatric GI services were added. During the 1990s, the creation of “carelines” allowed different specialty groups to meet and work on best practices. The concept of “outpatient care” also was added to Miller Children’s at this time with the opening of an Outpatient Surgery Center and the Tichner Lowman Clinic. Important supportive care and specialty care elements were added such as a pediatric rehabilitation program, children’s protective services, pediatric dentistry and behavioral and developmental care, through the Stramski Children’s Developmental Center.
In 2003, women’s health care became part of Miller Children’s & Women's Hospital Long Beach when it brought women’s services under its license. The BirthCare Center treats babies and women of all ages through its many services. More than 6,000 babies were born at the hospital in 2004, up 10 percent from 2003, as some of the area’s hospitals closed their maternity units because they were unprofitable. True to the family centered care approach, Miller Children’s takes care of the fetus and mother, mothers in labor, newborn babies and children up to 21 years of age. The only other hospital in the state to do so is Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University.
The BirthCare Center also houses a high-risk perinatal special care unit that takes care of expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies; those women hospitalized prior to giving birth. Miller Children’s
69-bed neonatal intensive care unit cares for more than 1,000 babies a year, more than any other hospital in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.
As the years continued, major changes including sub-specialization of pediatrics and the increase in regionalization, allowed Miller Children’s to draw patients from outside the local community — and become a regional destination for specialized pediatric care. Miller Children’s also has grown in size, scope of services and medical and nursing strength. It is the only trauma center for children in the region and has expanded outpatient specialty care to satellite locations, and covers more than 30 pediatric
Miller Children’s & Women's Hospital Long Beach stands out in the country, as well as in the region. In the United States, there are less than 70 free-standing children’s hospitals, including Miller Children’s, that provide teaching, research and comprehensive pediatric care. Miller Children’s is recognized as one of the eight free-standing children’s hospitals in California and still incorporates family centered care, spiritual healing and mind-body connection into its medical and surgical interventions, today; true to the vision of Dr. Orme when he embarked on building the hospital nearly 40 years ago.
Miller Children’s is growing to meet increasing health care needs of the communities’ young patients. Miller Children’s seeks to provide a kid-friendly environment that strips away the traditional hospital look and feel and replaces it with vibrant welcoming colors.