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Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital celebrates milestone anniversary with birthday party

PHOTO PROVIDED The birthday cake. Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital has taken care of more than 3 million children through its 25-year history.

DANVILLE — From illness to injury, Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital has taken care of more than 3 million children through its 25-year history. To mark this special occasion recently, staff and patients replaced stethoscopes and tongue depressors with balloons and cake during a birthday celebration in the children’s hospital lobby.

The annual celebration, hosted by the hospital’s Child Life Department and Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger, commemorates the hospital’s opening on Dec. 14, 1994. The 91-bed children’s hospital is a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center and offers inpatient and outpatient services including a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), a range of specialty pediatric services, and a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

“Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and our staff is such an integral part to so many family stories across the region,” said Frank A. Maffei, M.D., Geisinger’s chair of pediatrics. “We’ve grown so much since our inception in the early ’90s. This celebration is a culmination of 25 years’ worth of private celebrations we’ve experienced with our patients and families. From a child’s last chemotherapy treatment to watching a young athlete get back on the field, those are the celebrations we’re grateful to be a part of every day.”

Geisinger broke ground on the children’s hospital in 1992 and opened its doors two years later. Over the next quarter-century, the children’s hospital expanded past its physical walls in Danville to open units in Wilkes-Barre and increased specialty pediatric services not typically offered in rural settings like Danville.

The hospital also broadened access to pediatric care to surrounding communities, making it easier to see specialists closer to home. In the past 25 years, the children’s hospital trained more than 250 future pediatricians as pediatric residents. Geisinger also quadrupled the number of primary pediatric providers in the region from 50 in 1994 to more than 200 in 2019, and increased the number of pediatric specialists and pediatric surgeons from 20 to 150.

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Michael Ryan, who is featured as the doctor in the book, reads the book to the children during the celebration. Kyra Tunnicliff listening attentively to the story.

To celebrate this anniversary, Geisinger partnered with local organizations and businesses throughout 2019 to host several events and programs. In September, Geisinger hosted a Superhero Ball that raised more than $500,000 for the continued support and advancement of Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

Geisinger also unveiled an original children’s book, “The Courage Cape,” which features Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. The book, written by Brigitte Henry Cooper and illustrated by Bethany and Olivia Moy, will be gifted to each patient admitted to the children’s hospital over the next year. Dr. Michael E. Ryan, senior vice president of development, Geisinger Health Foundation, who is featured as the doctor in the book, read the book to the children during the celebration. The children were also presented with “courage capes” with encouraging words like, “strength” and “brave” written on them. The capes were donated and made by volunteers from Giant Food Stores.

“We are indebted to our community partners for their support in our first 25 years and look forward to continued service and success in our next 25 years,” Dr. Maffei added.

Timeline for Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital

— May 1992 – Groundbreaking occurs for the new children’s hospital at Geisinger.

PHOTO PROVIDED Madeline Whalen and Koller Elliott donning courage capes while enjoying cake and snacks at the celebration.

— May 1993 – Topping-off ceremony is held for the final beam, signed by employees and benefactors of the children’s hospital.

— December 14, 1994 – Teresa Lash is the first patient admitted to Geisinger’s new Children’s Hospital by Dr. Tom Martin, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics.

— June 1995 – The Children’s Hospital is officially dedicated to honor Janet Weis.

— 1998 – Dr. Michael E. Ryan D.O. named Chair of Pediatrics.

— 1998 – Women’s Hospital opens in Danville. Windows for pass-through connect the delivery suites with the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

PHOTO PROVIDED Kyra Tunnicliff, of New Albany, with The Courage Cape. The book, written by Brigitte Henry Cooper and illustrated by Bethany and Olivia Moy, will be gifted to each patient admitted to the children’s hospital over the next year.

— July 2000 – Pediatric Hospitalist Program begins at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

— July 2004 – Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center opens Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Unit.

” December 2004 – As part of the 10th anniversary of the children’s hospital, 10 honorees are inducted onto the Pediatric Wall of Fame.

— March 2005 – The Geisinger Child Advocacy Center opens in Northumberland.

— March 2008 – Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital ranks No. 1 in the nation for patient satisfaction according to Press Ganey survey.

— 2009 – Beds are added to the NICU, bringing the capacity to 41 babies.

— October 2011 – Tambur Family NICU opens at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, with 13 beds.

— 2012 – The Family Advisory Board is established at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

— April 2013 – Geisinger Autism Developmental Institute is established in Lewisburg.

— 2014 – The pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the children’s hospital achieves top 10 percent ranking in national collaborative survival outcomes.

— 2015 – Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital expands to Geisinger Holy Spirit.

— 2015 – Pediatric patients get iPads with Interactive Patient System and more than 100 apps. Videoconferencing service iBonding allows new mothers in remote hospitals to connect with their newborns who were transferred to Geisinger.

— 2017 – Dr. Frank A. Maffei, M.D. named Chair of Pediatrics

— 2017- Pediatric Palliative Care Program begins.

— 2017 – Child Life Internship Program receives national accreditation.

— 2017 – Pediatric Emergency Medicine Program starts at Geisinger Medical Center.

— 2017 – The Ronald McDonald House® of Danville opens the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.

— 2017 – The PICU is remodeled, bringing its capacity to 14 beds, along with 91 beds in the children’s hospital.

— 2019 – Dr. Stacey Cummings, M.D. named Vice Chair, Outpatient Pediatrics – which now includes 30 practice sites across central and northeast Pennsylvania.

— 2019 – Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital celebrates 25 years of outstanding service to the children and families of our collective communities.

About Geisinger

Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1.5 million consumers it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 13 hospital campuses, a 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. With 32,000 employees and 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at geisinger.org or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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