September 28, 2007

Children’s Hospital’s birth, history outlined in book

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Children’s Hospital’s birth, history outlined in book

The lengthy struggle to establish a children's hospital in Nashville is the subject of “More than a Place: The Origins of a Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt,” a book recently published by freelance writer Lisa DuBois.

“Several years ago, Dr. David Karzon and his wife, Allaire, approached me about writing the book,” DuBois said. “As I began exploring the idea I became fascinated by how the various factions of Nashville came together to reach a common goal — providing children access to health care. The Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt became a unifying force in the community, and it remains so today.”

The book traces the hospital's genesis during a time of dramatic change in the nation and in the city — during the years when women's suffrage, World War II, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement were making headlines outside the hospital, and would ultimately affect how children were treated within it.

The story begins in the early 1900s with Vanderbilt's first foray into pediatric medical care, and traces the pivotal role the Junior League of Nashville and their Home for Crippled Children played as far back as the home's founding in 1924. The book also details the reasons why Amos Christie, M.D., former chair of Pediatrics, did not initially support building a children's hospital and how the unwavering, decades-long commitment of George Holcomb, M.D., David Karzon, M.D., and countless others eventually led to what we now know as the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

“More than a Place” is as much a story about Nashville, its character and its people, as it is about Children's Hospital,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “People like Nelson Andrews, David Karzon, Millie Stahlman, George Holcomb and all of the volunteers at the Junior League did so much to create the Children's Hospital and also to shape Nashville during the turbulent transformation of the 1960s.”

Added Kevin Churchwell, M.D., chief executive officer of Children's Hospital, “The book thoroughly details how the vision of a few can have such a profound reality for so many children. We're very fortunate that these individuals could see so far into the future to lay the groundwork for what is now one of the nation's best children's hospitals.”

DuBois began her research in 2004 by interviewing more than 50 sources for the book. She scoured the archives at the Junior League, the Nashville Public Library, the Jewish Federation of Nashville and the Annette and Irwin Eskind Medical Library at Vanderbilt. She also read through numerous scrapbooks and personal files that individuals had saved.

“Everybody involved entrusted me to tell this story,” she said. “They said, 'This is what happened, and some of it is not pretty.' Today we can gaze at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt and know that everything turned out ok. But it was a difficult process to get here, and many battles were fought over it. At the same time, many barriers were broken down and new understandings were reached.”

“More Than a Place” is on sale at area bookstores and can also be purchased on Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit Children's Hospital.

DuBois has also been invited to give a presentation on the book at the upcoming Southern Festival of Books on Friday, Oct. 12, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. at the Capitol Building downtown.