Ronald Reagan was president, gasoline cost around 90 cents a gallon, The Cosby Show topped the television ratings and a children’s hospital was established in Winston-Salem.
Brenner Children’s Hospital, the pediatric arm of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is observing the 25th anniversary of its founding in 1986 as the first pediatric hospital in northwest North Carolina.
Brenner remains the only full-service children’s hospital in the region and is the only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center in the state. With state-of-the-art facilities and more than 130 physicians trained in 30 areas of pediatric medicine, Brenner offers the latest in research-based, family-centered care for children under age 18.
The hospital’s founding was the result of a generous gift from the Brenner family of Winston-Salem.
Frank Brenner, an immigrant from Latvia, started a junk and scrap-metal business in the city in 1921. He and his wife, Jennie, had three sons, Morris, Abe and Herb, who eventually inherited the family enterprise and later built a group of businesses that became known as Brenner Companies Inc. One of the Brenner brothers’ ventures, Amarr Garage Doors, established in 1951 as a building supply company, is today one of the world’s leading designers, manufacturers and distributors of garage doors and door access systems for residential and commercial buildings.
Intent upon doing something of significance for the people of the Winston-Salem area, Brenner family members in 1981 financed the Brenner Center for Adolescent Medicine, a teaching program for medical students and residents and a clinic for young patients at North Carolina Baptist Hospital. It was the first such center in North Carolina and one of only 27 in the United States at the time.
Five years later, the Brenners agreed to make, through the Brenner Foundation, a substantial contribution toward the creation of a major facility devoted exclusively to children’s medicine. The founding of the children’s hospital was announced in May 1986.
“The Brenner family’s role in the founding of the children’s hospital was critical for its development,” said Jimmy Simon, M.D., former chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist who, along with Richard Janeway, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine at the time, was instrumental in working with the family to establish the hospital. “Their leadership and generosity were essential.”
Since then, members of the Brenner family have remained involved in the development of the children’s hospital that bears their name and in the leadership of Wake Forest Baptist, serving on various advisory and governing boards at the medical center.
Brenner Children’s Hospital was first housed in a dedicated space in the North Tower of Baptist Hospital. Between July 1989 and April 1990, its facilities were moved to a three-floor unit in the same building.
In April 2002, Brenner Children’s was relocated to the newly constructed Ardmore Tower West, its present home. Brenner’s six floors in the tower feature 160 private rooms, six playrooms, an interactive video wall and a rooftop garden with playground equipment.
Earlier this year, Brenner opened a 20,665-square-foot Emergency Department with 18 examination rooms, four larger treatment rooms, two trauma rooms and a diagnostic suite, all with child-appropriate furnishings, devices and instruments.
Approximately 5,000 children are admitted to Brenner Children’s Hospital each year, while more than 21,000 outpatient visits are conducted at its clinics. The “hospital within a hospital” serves children from northwest North Carolina and parts of South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
“We are extremely proud of what the dedicated people on the staff here at Brenner have been able to accomplish in its first quarter-century,” said Marty B. Scott, M.D., vice president of Brenner Children’s Hospital. “Our ongoing aim is to build upon that tradition of excellence and continue to provide the most advanced, highest quality care available for children.”