Our History

1949: Valley Children’s founding mothers – Carolyn Peck, Gail Goodwin, Helen Maupin, Agnes Crocket and Patty Randall – announce their vision to establish a dedicated pediatric hospital in the Central Valley. They launch the first Valley Children’s Guild to begin raising financial and community support.

1952: Through fundraising efforts by the original Guild, Valley Children's Hospital officially opens at the corner of Shields and Millbrook avenues in Fresno.

1953: An iron lung and electromyography are added for polio patients.

1955: Valley Children’s pediatric cardiac surgery program begins with closed-heart procedures. By 1958, Valley Children’s performs its first open-heart atrial septal defect closure.

1961: The Hospital acquires a heart defibrillator. The Intensive Newborn Service Center opens to care for premature infants. In order to calm patients' fears and help them feel comfortable, the Hospital starts a program to take patients on pre-operative tours. The first adult heart surgery is performed at Valley Children's.

1971: Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opens with eight beds. A "preemie transport system” begins soon after, allowing transport of premature infants to the Hospital from across the Valley. More than four decades later, with 88 beds, it is the only Regional Level IV NICU in Central California.

1975: Our fully equipped emergency room opens. To this day, Valley Children’s remains the only designated pediatric trauma center in the region.

1978: In a first for the area, Valley Children’s surgeons separate conjoined twins.

1978: “AM admissions” or Day Surgery unit opens. This gives children the opportunity to check in for surgery in the morning and be home that night.

1979: Valley Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) opens.

1980: A newly remodeled intensive care unit opens. The adult cardiac unit closed to accommodate more pediatric programs.

1983: The first telethon to benefit Valley Children’s airs.

1985: Valley Children’s NICU opens at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno.

1986: Valley Children’s rehabilitation center opens. For more than 30 years, we continue to offer the only pediatric rehab center in the Central Valley and one of only two on the West Coast.

1989: Valley Children’s Olivewood Specialty Care Center in Merced opens.

1995: Valley Children’s NICU opens at Mercy Medical Center in Merced.

1996: Valley Children’s NICU opens at Adventist Health in Hanford.

1997: Our first primary care physician practice, Charlie Mitchell Children’s Center, opens in Madera.

1998: Valley Children’s Hospital moves a few miles north to its new location in Madera.

2002: Valley Children’s specialty care center in Modesto opens.

2004: Valley Children’s becomes the first designated Magnet Nursing hospital west of the Rockies. This prestigious designation recognizes the highest levels of excellence in nursing and is awarded to less than three percent of all hospitals in the U.S.

2006: The Hospital receives a $4 million donation from the Wonderful Company that allows us to expand 60,000-square feet with additional surgical suites, imaging department, PICU and Emergency Department (ED).

2008: Valley Children’s becomes a Magnet Nursing hospital for a second time (hospitals may apply for redesignation every four years). Valley Children’s Hospital becomes the first hospital in the state to offer private rooms in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

2010: Our PICU receives the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence for the first time. This award is given by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) to fewer than 10 PICUs in the nation.

2014: Valley Children’s Healthcare officially forms, a network focused on providing comprehensive, high-quality pediatric care to more families across our vast service area. Our first inpatient clinical partnership with Sierra View Medical Center launches.

2015: Valley Children’s 34th Street Specialty Care Center in Bakersfield opens.

2016: Valley Children’s Hospital ranks for the first time as one of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” – in Neonatology. Our PICU again receives the Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence. Valley Children’s Akers Specialty Care Center in Visalia opens.

2017: The inaugural class of the Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program, affiliated with Stanford University School of Medicine, arrives. 

2021: Valley Children's Hospital is ranked for the sixth year in a row as one of the country's best children's hospitals in seven pediatric specialties: Neonatology, Pediatric Diabetes & Endocrinology, Pediatric Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Pediatric Neurology & Neurosurgery, Pediatric Orthopaedics, Pediatric Pulmonology & Lung Surgery and Pediatric Urology.