History

History

Penn State Children’s Hospital has a long history of superior care and innovation. Learn how we grew from a floor in the Medical Center to a 263,000-square-foot hospital dedicated to the care of children.

Contact us

If you have any questions about the history of the Children’s Hospital, please contact Penn State  Marketing and Communications at 717-531-8606.

Samuel Hinkle, president of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation, and Eric Walker, president of Penn State University, recreate the fabled
Samuel Hinkle, president of the Hershey Chocolate Corporation (left), and Eric Walker, president of Penn State University, recreate the fabled "$50 Million Dollar Phone Call."

Our beginnings

The history of the Penn State Children’s Hospital begins in 1963, when the M. S. Hershey Foundation offered $50 million to The Pennsylvania State University to establish a medical school and teaching hospital in Hershey.

With this grant and $21.3 million from the U.S. Public Health Service, the university built a medical school, teaching hospital, and research center.

Ground was broken in 1966, and Penn State's College of Medicine opened its doors to the first class of students in 1967. Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center accepted its first patients in 1970. Beginning in the 1980s , a floor in the Medical Center was dedicated specifically for the care of children.

Since 1970, the campus has grown from 318 to 550 acres.

Floors to various construction vehicles, including concrete trucks, on the road below.
Early morning concrete pour marks next phase of Children’s Hospital expansion on Sept. 14, 2018.

Breaking ground: The Children’s Hospital

The Medical Center has completed several carefully planned construction projects, including the 263,000-square-feet Children’s Hospital. Work began in 2009, and in 2013 the first patients moved in.

The five-story building cost nearly $207 million. It was funded in part by state development money and private donors, including a $25 million commitment from Highmark and an $8 million gift from philanthropists Jeanne and Ed Arnold.

It was designed by Payette and Associates, the same architectural firm that designed the Penn State Cancer Institute facility.

Milestones

  • 1963: M. S. Hershey Foundation offers $50 million to The Pennsylvania State University to establish a medical school and teaching hospital in Hershey.
  • 1966: Ground is broken for the medical campus.
  • 1970: Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center accepts its first patients.
  • The seventh floor of the Medical Center is dedicated to pediatric care.
  • 2009: Ground is broken for the Children’s Hospital.
  • 2013: Pediatric patients move from the Medical Center to the new Children’s Hospital.
  • 2018: Ground is broken for approximately 126,000-square-foot addition

Since its opening, the Children’s Hospital has been an active center of pediatric research, supported in part by Four Diamonds and Children’s Miracle Network. It has also received numerous awards and recognition, including ranking in numerous specialties in U.S.News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals list.

To learn more about the history of the Medical Center and the Children’s Hospital, visit the exciting new exhibits at The Hershey Story museum.

Children's Hospital Expansion

On February 23, 2018, Penn State Board of Trustees approved final plans to add three floors to the Penn State Children’s Hospital building on the campus of Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The expansion project, which is expected to be complete by 2020, has an estimated budget of $148.1 million.

The approximately 126,000-square-foot addition will provide space for a new labor and delivery unit and post-partum patient rooms, as well as a new neonatal intensive care unit - all of which will be relocated from the their current locations in the adult hospital. The addition also will include an 18-bed pediatric acute care unit. As part of the project, approximately 14,000 square feet of the existing fifth floor of the Children’s Hospital will be renovated from office space to provide another 14 pediatric patient rooms, team care stations and support spaces.

Learn more about the Children's Hospital expansion.