Dr. W. Barnett Owen and University of Louisville physicians saw an unfulfilled need in the Louisville community in the early 1920’s- a place for children to receive long term quality medical care. Dr. Owen asked members of the community to help fulfill this need, and in response, the Kosair Shrine Temple formed Kosair Charities Committee Inc. Other organizations including Junior League and the local Rotary Club also stepped up to help realize this need for our community’s children. In 1923, the committee incorporated and purchased six acres of land on Eastern Parkway for a children’s hospital. On May 12, 1926, the first ten patients were admitted to Kosair Crippled Children Hospital—a facility for the treatment of crippled children regardless of condition or financial standing. The active and associate medical staff was composed of 102 physicians and surgeons who were recognized as leaders in their particular fields. Initially, the hospital had 50 beds, an operating room, kitchen, and brace shop. Kosair Crippled Children Hospital grew quickly and by 1939 reached a capacity of 100 beds. During the same year the hospital became accredited by the American Medical Association. In the 1940s and 1950s, polio treatment became a high priority, and the hospital was filled to capacity at all times with polio patients. Due to the growing needs of the hospital, in 1952, the W. Barnett Owen Memorial Annex was added and the building was remodeled making Kosair Crippled Children Hospital a state of the art facility. In 1977, heavy emphasis was placed upon treating and educating abused children. In the late 1970s, the care for children continued to change, and Kosair Charities Committee began to collaborate with the Children’s Hospital, part of Norton Infirmary, under the advisement of University of Louisville pediatric physicians. As orthopedic care become less prominent, the community required a facility to immediately treat critically ill or injured children. This resulted in the consolidation of Kosair Crippled Children Hospital and the Children’s Hospital, effective May 1, 1981. The merger of these hospitals opened the door to a greater range of services offered to children needing medical care. Today, we know this collaboration as Kosair Children’s Hospital.
In 1982, since it no longer had the responsibility of operating a health care facility, Kosair Charities was able to broaden its scope of support. It began providing grants to support pediatric programs such as The Kosair Charities Pediatric Convalescent Center at the Home of the Innocents. Kosair Charities also began to provide individual help to children outside hospitals through the Special Kids program, which arranges for medical referrals, financial assistance and transportation. The property on Eastern Parkway, which once served as Kosair Crippled Children Hospital, is now the campus for the Sam Swope Kosair Charities Center. In 2013, Kosair Charities opened its East Campus on Bluegrass Parkway, which houses Louisville Pediatric Therapy Canter, Bluegrass Center for Autism, and Heuser Hearing Academy. Today, through an extensive grant program, Kosair Charities is able to support over 90 agencies around the state that provide crucial medical care to children. Kosair Charities also provides grants for rent-free office space for non-profits including: CASA, Epilepsy Foundation, The KIDS Center, Huntington’s disease Foundation, Louisville Metro Police Foundation, Spina Bifida, Trust for Life, and the University of Louisville Autism Center, Pediatric Center and Pediatric Dental Clinics. Today, Kosair Charities is the largest charity for children in the history of Kentucky and Southern Indiana. For over 90 years, they have been exemplifying their mission of protecting the health and well-being of children and providing Kosair Kids® with better tomorrows. Dr. James Ramsey, President of the University of Louisville said it best when he said, “the children of our area have no better friend than Kosair Charities.”
1923: Kosair Charities was incorporated.
1926: Kosair Charities Committee opened Kosair Crippled Children Hospital under the leadership of Dr. W. Barnett Owen, the first orthopedic specialist in Kentucky who served as Chief of Staff until his death in 1947.
1934: Kosair Charities added an additional wing that housed 50 new beds.
1939: Kosair Crippled Children Hospital received accredited standing by American Medical Association.
1942: Under Barnett Owen’s supervision, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Leatherman performed the 1st scoliosis operation in Kentucky.
1944: Kosair Crippled Children Hospital introduced innovative polio treatments as the disease reaches a peak.
1951: Cornerstone was laid for the $100,000 Dr. Barnett Owen Memorial Annex at the Kosair Crippled.
Children Hospital and the House of Dreams movie was produced.
1955: National Shrine Hospital Day was observed at Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital.
1960: Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali), Olympic Gold Medalist, visited the hospital.
1967: Kosair Charities Chair of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Louisville School of Medicine established.
1973: Kosair Crippled Children Hospital joins with the Kentucky Commission for Handicapped Children.
1978: Announcement is made that the Kosair Crippled Children Hospital is considering building a downtown hospital.
1979: Board is appointed to begin exploring merger with Norton Children’s Hospital.
1981: Kosair Charities, with the Norton Healthcare System, created Kosair Children’s Hospital.
1986: Kosair Children’s Hospital opened.
1988: Kosair Charities officially launched the Gifts and Grants program.
1996: Kosair Charities Pediatric Center dedicated at the University of Louisville.
1998: Kosair Charities created Kosair Charities Pediatric Center at Home of the Innocents with $6.25 million grant.
2001: Kosair Charities awarded Jewish Hospital $2.5 million grant to build the Kosair Charities Pediatric Pavilion.
2004: Kosair Charities Pediatric Heart Research Center developed with $5 million grant.
2005: Kosair Charities moves into the remodeled, original Kosair Crippled Children’s Hospital.
2007: Kosair Charities announced 20-year $130 million agreement with Kosair Children’s Hospital.
2008: Kosair Charities granted $12 million to the U of L Pediatric Research Center.
2009: Kosair Fellow Dr. Penny Heaton develops a vaccine to save an estimated 500,000 children’s lives. Louisville Central Community Centers receives $1 million to expand child development services, which includes Children’s Health, Education and Arts Center.
- Kosair Charities Dreams Take Flight Celebration begins by awarding $16 million in gifts and grants and annually touching the lives of over 150,000 children.
2010: Sam Swope makes $1 million gift to Kosair Charities – center is renamed Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre.
2011: “House of Dreams” movie featuring Louisville actor Victor Mature and Kosair Kid® Donald White re-released at Dreams Take Flight.
- University of Louisville Autism Center, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Trust for Life and
- Metro Police Foundation join the Kosair Charities Campus rent-free.
2013: Kosair Charities, the largest provider of resources for the care of children in the Kentucky and Southern Indiana region, celebrates its 90th year anniversary.
Kosair Charities opens East Campus opens.
Louisville Pediatric Therapy Center, Bluegrass Center for Autism, Heuser Hearing, and U of L Pediatric and Dental Clinics join Kosair Charities campuses rent free.
2014: Kosair Charities granted $1,250,000 to the Shriners Hospital for Children Lexington for a new pediatric facility.
University of Louisville’s Pediatric Neurorecovery received at $7,300,000 commitment from Kosair Charities to support ongoing research and purchase specialized pediatric rehabilitation equipment.