The Architecture of Healthcare: Variety Children’s Hospital

On this edition of Learning from Miami, we continue our tour of South Florida hospitals and visit the Variety Children’s Hospital.

On October 10, 1927, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 11 men involved in the entertainment industry created a social group they named the “Variety Club.” On Christmas Eve in 1928, an abandoned baby girl was found in the Sheridan Square Theater where the Variety Club was meeting. Efforts were made to track down the little girl’s mother, but she was never found. Members of the club adopted the child and named her Catherine Variety Sheridan, after the club and the theater where she was found. After their experience of caring for Catherine until she could be taken in by a family, the Variety Club members decided to focus their efforts on helping needy children.



In the 1930s, Dr. Arthur Weiland, Miami’s leading orthopedic surgeon and founder of Florida’s Crippled Children’s Commission, believed South Florida was in desperate need of a children’s hospital. He later joined forces with the Variety Club, which raised enough money to help fund the building of a children’s hospital near Coral Gables. In March 1950, just as the polio outbreak was beginning to ravage South Florida, Variety Children’s Hospital was opened and soon became a specialty hospital for treating children suffering from polio. In 1958, Variety became a teaching hospital for new doctors and nurses entering the field of pediatric medicine. After the Cuban Revolution, an influx of new refugees arrived in South Florida and Variety served as a place of healing for refugee children in need of medical care.



In 1983, during a major expansion of the medical facility, Variety Children’s Hospital was renamed Miami Children’s Hospital. On March 20, 2015, the hospital’s 65th anniversary, Miami Children’s Hospital was renamed Nicklaus Children’s Hospital following a generous pledge from golfer Jack Nicklaus and his wife Barbara’s charitable organization, the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation. Today, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital continues its legacy as a state-of-the-art pediatric hospital, now with facilities and clinics throughout South Florida.


-Ursa Gil


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