Arnold Palmer Hospital

A Very Special Baby

Conversations in the late 1970's between pediatricians Andrew Townes Jr., MD, Ben Guedes, MD, and Colin Condron, MD, led to the decision several years later to build what has become the only healthcare facility dedicated solely to the care of children and women in the Southeast.

"We started out by forming the Children's Medical Foundation of Greater Orlando in February 1980," explains Dr. Townes. "Judge Joseph DuRocher drafted the first articles of incorporation." After only two meetings, the group changed its name to the Children's Hospital Foundation and added physicians Charles Price, MD, Richard Signer, MD, Stanley Hand, MD, Arthur Raptoulis, MD, Joseph Chiaro, MD, Jack Facundus, MD, Ronald David, MD, and Michael Pollack, MD. James Page, Jr., donated his services as corporate attorney.

All pledged $1,000 each to pay for a feasibility study. Unfortunately, not enough money was raised. The group persuaded Ross Laboratories, which specializes in pediatric and obstetric healthcare products, to conduct the study and absorb the $40,000 cost. One of the things they said is that special services for women, as well as children, should be included to make the hospital more successful. "About that time ORMC heard what we had in mind and decided they would do it," says Dr. Townes.

Renowned golfer Arnold Palmer, firmly tied to the Orlando area by the 1980s, was looking for a charity to support when he was approached by ORMC. "Arnold was insistent that it be top quality in every respect," says Rex McPherson. "It is a real pleasure to see what has been accomplished. This hospital represents a labor of love on the part of a lot of people. Before we opened the new hospital, we had to send kids to Miami, wherever, because there was no children's hospital here."

Take a look at Arnold Palmer Hospital through the years

Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children & Women became one of the few hospitals in the United States where obstetrics and children's services are combined, increasing the chances for survival of high-risk newborns as well as enhancing the quality of care for both mother and child.

When the Foundation took over the campaign to finance Arnold Palmer Hospital, all the pediatricians were solicited for funds," Dr. Townes says. "Most gave $5,000 to $10,000. The pediatricians really pushed the hospital."

Rather than build an entirely new structure, ORMC elected to remodel a portion of Holiday Hospital and construct an adjoining building of 160,000 square feet. Eighty percent of the patient rooms at the new hospital were private rooms. The hospital's 158 beds have stayed full since its opening on September 10, 1989.

"Actually," says John Bozard, President of Arnold Palmer Hospital, "we outgrew the facility. We were 66,000 square feet short of what we needed to operate at current levels of activity."

The hospital operates as a partnership between the medical staff and management, John explained. "The doctors are very much involved in all of our planning processes. Because the doctors are so supportive," continues John., Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is a 158-bed, 362,000 square foot facility that uniquely meets the healthcare needs of children. The hospital is also a part of the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which also includes Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies and the Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families. Arnold Palmer Medical Center is the largest facility dedicated to children and women in the United States. Arnold Palmer Hospital is connected to Winnie Palmer Hospital through a two-story connector bridge, allowing easy transport of patients and efficient sharing of resources.

Palmer Family Legacy and Winnie Palmer were first introduced to Orlando Health through an invitation to tour the newly opened neonatal intensive care unit and pediatrics wing of Orlando Regional Medical Center in the mid-1980s. This small unit had a talented, ambitious, and dedicated staff but the meager conditions made an impact on the Palmers. Arnold even made an off-hand comment that, "we can do better than this - we should do better than this - for the children of our community."

About this same time, a group of pediatricians were working together to garner support for a children's hospital to be built in the Orlando area. Up until that time, children requiring specialized healthcare had to travel to Gainesville, Tampa, Jacksonville, or even as far as Miami to receive the necessary treatment.

Some close friends of the Palmers asked if they would be interested in joining the cause to help make a children's hospital a reality. After much discussion, they agreed to lend Arnold Palmer's name to the facility as well as help raise the money needed to build it. This was the beginning of the Palmer's legacy of caring for the children and families of Central Florida - as well as around the world.

In the beginning of the relationship between the hospital and the Palmers, Arnold and Winnie set forth a challenge. Their challenge was to always strive to be the best. And with the agreement to use his name on the hospital came a commitment that "good" would never be "good enough." In everything that we do, we know that we must reach a level that is beyond what is acceptable. The children and families deserve the best.

When you hear Arnold talk about the hospital, you can see what makes him so proud. He said recently, "This hospital isn’t just going to be the best hospital in Orlando, or even the best hospital in Florida. But this hospital is going to be one of the best in the world." This has been our commitment - to do our part to make this one of the best hospitals in the world.

If you ask Arnold, he will tell you that as great as 92 national and international championships, a U.S. Amateur Championship, four Masters Championships, two British Opens, a U.S. Open Championship, being named the "Athlete of a Decade" - none of them compare to being a part of saving the life of a child. This is a legacy of caring.

To learn more about Arnold Palmer read the latest issue of his magazine, Kingdom Magazine.

Arnold Palmer Hospital Milestones


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is recognized again by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Children’s Hospitals in the country. Nationally, Arnold Palmer Hospital ranked 38 th in Orthopedic care.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is recognized again by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Children’s Hospitals in Orthopedic care, pediatric heart/heart surgery, and Gastroenterology in the country.


  • The Hewell Kid's Kidney Center opens as the first dialysis center in Central Florida exclusively for kids.

  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is recognized again by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Children’s Hospitals in Orthopedic care and pediatric heart/heart surgery in the country.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is recognized again by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Children’s Hospitals in the country. Nationally, Arnold Palmer Hospital ranked 28 th in Orthopedic care and 30th in pediatric heart/heart surgery.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Best Children’s Hospitals in the country. Nationally, Arnold Palmer Hospital ranked 26th in pediatric heart/heart surgery.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital unveils a new Toys “R” Us Children’s Fund Starlight Site, a state-of-the-art playroom created in partnership with the Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation.
  • Arnold Palmer Hospital announces the Pediatric Sports Medicine Program specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, education and prevention of sports injuries in young athletes.
  • Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, part of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, receives the 10th Annual Ernest Amory Codman Award for its documented success in the prevention of HIV transmission from mother to baby.


  • The 158-bed Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children is connected to Winnie Palmer Hospital and the Women’s Center is moved to Winnie Palmer Hospital.
  • The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families, a part of Arnold Palmer Medical Center, was awarded the 2006 Ernest Amory Codman Award. The award, presented by The Joint Commission, recognized the HUG-Me program, which helps prevent HIV transmission to children.
  • The Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital became the only implant center in Florida for a national migraine study.
  • The CHI performed a rare heart surgery on a 16-yearold whose heart was nearly split in half in a car crash. Only a handful of successful cases have been reported in world medical journals.
  • The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families introduced a new Teen Xpress mobile unit.
  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children announced expansion plans to include a total of 158 licensed beds, Bert Martin’s Champions for Children’s Emergency Department & Trauma Center, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, pharmacy, on-site blood center, and redesigned atrium and PlayWorks areas.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit celebrated 30 years of helping the tiniest babies.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital broke ground on the new Bert Martin's Champions for Children Emergency Department & Trauma Center.
  • The Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children installed Internet-based wireless technology, providing the heart team with instant access to critical patient data.


  • The Howard Phillips Center for Children & Families opened, streamlining children’s advocacy and healthcare services.
  • Arnold Palmer Hospital unveiled its Vision for the Future, a five-phase facility enhancement - a sanctuary for hope and healing.


  • Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Children opens in Orlando, FL