Sometimes taking the first step to achieve great things starts with a single conversation. That was the case in the late 1970s when three men — Andrew Townes Jr., MD; Ben Guedes, MD; and Colin Condron, MD — began talking about their desire to revolutionize specialty care. They believed they could achieve that goal by opening the only healthcare facility dedicated to women and children in the Southeast.
“We started out by forming the Children’s Medical Foundation of Greater Orlando in February 1980,” said Dr. Townes. Along the way — and with the help of several more physicians and community partners — this labor of love drew the attention of a famous contributor, Arnold Palmer. His strong ties to the community and generous support were a launching pad for everything to come.
The Journey Forward
When it came time to build, it was the generosity and will of all the pediatricians who contributed that made the hospital possible. As Dr. Townes said, “Most doctors gave $5,000 to $10,000.” That financing turned out to be a sound investment — both in money and faith.
Rather than build entirely from the ground up, it was decided to remodel a portion of Holiday Hospital, then add an adjoining 160,000-square-foot building. This transformed the old space and made 80 percent of the new rooms private.
Just as the hospital was taking shape, so too was the care model. Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children began defining its place in the Orlando area — and throughout the medical world. Most notably, it became known as one of the few hospitals in the United States to combine obstetrics and children’s services, improving the quality of care for both mothers and kids.
Since opening September 10, 1989, the hospital’s 156 beds have stayed full, and new opportunities continue to be discovered. We think that’s because we’ve never stopped having a conversation — with one another, with our patients, and with our community.