"The Children's Mercy Story"
New historical display depicts the hospital's 120-year history through pictures, words and artifacts
“The Children’s Mercy Story,” a new historical display representing the 120-year legacy of the hospital, was unveiled Wednesday (June 14) and immediately drew high praise from staff members witnessing the special event.
“One of the things I love about Children’s Mercy is that dreams come true here. The completion of this new historical display is exactly that … a dream come true,” said Tom McCormally, Director of Archives, who welcomed attendees to the unveiling ceremony.
“I get emotional thinking of the history of Children’s Mercy,” said Dr. Randall L. O’Donnell, President and CEO of Children's Mercy. “120 years, all starting out with a little girl abandoned in the West Bottoms who Alice Berry Graham and Katharine Berry Richardson were called upon to see if they would help … and they did. That was our first patient. This special display that Tom and the Archives Committee have done such a magnificent job on reflects everything from that history, right up through what I call 120 years of empathy and support for Children’s Mercy from our community, because we wouldn’t exist without that. As I told someone the other day, at 120 years, we’re just getting started.”
The 30-feet long, 8-feet tall display, located on the ground floor of the Adele Hall Campus next to the lobby and rotunda, is a three-dimensional, museum-quality display designed to take visitors on a journey through the 120-year odyssey of one of the top pediatric medical centers in the United States. Through pictures, words and a small sampling of historically significant artifacts, the wall describes the story, from humble beginnings of the hospital by two sisters caring for a single little girl in a rented bed, to a fully integrated clinical referral center, academic medical center and research hub. Underpinning the entire story, and the display itself, is a foundation of philanthropic support and a devotion to the mission of being for all children everywhere.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Dr. O’Donnell added after the curtain came down and all could see. “I love the three-dimensional aspect of it, the openness of it that you can literally reach in and touch.”
We hope it helps fuel that sense of pride in the work, in the legacy, in the dream of Children’s Mercy
Staff members won invitations to the opening by submitting answers to the question, “Why I’m proud of Children's Mercy’s 120-year legacy in our community,” were equally impressed.
“I love the new exhibit. I think it is an inspiration and really encompasses what Children’s Mercy stands for and everything we do for the public,” said Demetria Clay, Administrative Assistant-Ear, Nose and Throat. “I love the interaction, that you actually touch it and feel it. I think that will be good for patients to really dig in deep and see what we represent.”
Mary Van Duzer, Human Resources Specialist, said, “I think a lot of people come here not realizing our history, so I think it’s nice that we have this.”
Kevin Briggs, Program Manager, Accreditation & Regulatory Readiness, said, “It’s pretty amazing and it’s a little overwhelming as you start to take a look at everything that’s here. I think probably my favorite part is the initial story about the sisters, how there was a child who needed care, and how they started caring for her. That’s why we’re here and that’s part of our mission, to take care of all the kids of Kansas City.”
Sheila Montgomery Park, Director of Philanthropic Corporate and Foundation Giving, said, “It’s fabulous. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Being in Philanthropy, I like all the references to early fundraising…it’s a really broad, lovely exhibit. I didn’t know nurses had to sew their own uniforms and live here while they went to nursing school. I learned quite a few things, just glancing at it for about seven minutes.”
Leslie Cromwell, Office Manager, Strategic Planning, said, “It’s lovely to watch where we’ve come from. It shows where we started, where we’ve been, and also where we’re going.”
Leslie’s son, Jax, 10, is part of the exhibit. He is pictured with Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, Division Director, Infectious Diseases.
“I’m very pleased that my son was able to be a part of this display,” Leslie said. “He was an inpatient here for eight days at two weeks of age. They saved my son’s life; I will never be able to thank our staff enough.”
What's in? What's out?
As the Director of Archives, McCormally led the effort that resulted in the new display. One of the toughest parts of the job was deciding what material to include.
“The biggest challenge we had was we had too many good stories,” McCormally said. “Too many good photographs. It’s a nice problem to have – far better than not having the stories or the pictures or the artifacts – but it meant we had to make some really tough choices about what goes in, and what is out. We only had limited space and yet, as you see, there is a lot, lot of information here. It can become almost overwhelming. Believe me, I know. And this is after we whittled it down a lot. There are some familiar photos and some we’re seeing for the very first time.”
The display is the result of a team effort.
“When we started this project more than two years ago, all we wanted to do was update and upgrade the existing display case that was a somewhat dusty hodgepodge of artifacts, news clippings and photographs,” McCormally said. “We began to dream. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean there were a lot of people involved: the Archives Committee, Dr. O’Donnell, many people in Marketing and Communications and Philanthropy, the folks at UMKC that hold our archival collection, and our museum consultant, Jean Svadlenak. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. It was a team effort."
“In the end, our dream was to create a place where visitors could see not only our history, but also our promise for the future. A place where they can take in a little bit of information each time they walk by and get the sense that ‘Wow, this is some special place.’ For employees especially, we hope it helps fuel that sense of pride in the work, in the legacy, in the dream of Children’s Mercy.”