A new era – a new name
In September 2020, we proudly introduced our patients and families to our new name – Tufts Children’s Hospital. For more than a century, Floating Hospital for Children has been a pioneer in health care for pediatric patients. Our new name carries forward that legacy and reflects the groundbreaking pediatric research and medicine that has helped us earn regional and national respect and recognition. As always, our goal is to return our young patients to their very best childhood and treat them in the warm, compassionate family centered way that we have been for more than 125 years.
Tufts Children’s Hospital is a major academic medical institution with innovative programs in clinical care, biomedical research, education and health care delivery. It is only one of two stand-alone full-service children’s hospitals in Massachusetts, complete with a Level 1 emergency department and a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Aligned with Tufts Medical Center to care for patients and families all along the continuum of care, we offer a full range of inpatient and outpatient services in primary care and in every area of pediatric specialization.
Providing patient-centered, personalized care
Tufts Children’s Hospital remains committed to the core founding principle of being a community-based, low-cost provider of world-class medical services for all the diverse patients and families who come through our doors. Whether at our main campus in downtown Boston or at one of our specialty centers in the communities we proudly serve, our focus remains on caring for the “whole child” in a personalized environment.
Dedicated to educating the future leaders of pediatric medicine, Tufts Children’s Hospital is also proud to be the principal pediatric teaching and research institution for Tufts University School of Medicine.
A rich history that started on Boston Harbor
For more than a century, Tufts Children’s Hospital was known as Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center. Floating Hospital was established in 1894 as a hospital ship, sailing in Boston Harbor. In those days, little was known about the care of sick children, but many thought that fresh air – especially ocean air – was beneficial. The Reverend Rufus B. Tobey was concerned about the plight of ill, impoverished children and proposed taking them and their mothers for a day’s outing on Boston Harbor. Not only would they get the fresh ocean air, but they would have an opportunity to be seen – at no charge – by volunteer doctors and nurses.
Rever and Tobey and the other founders of this Boston “floating” hospital received enough donations from generous members of the community to turn the idea into a reality. Day-long excursions began on July 25, 1894 and continued throughout the summer. Each day, hundreds of children received needed medical attention, mothers learned how to safely care for and feed their children, and everyone – patients, parents, doctors, nurses, volunteers and crew – enjoyed the “beneficial harbor breezes.” Floating Hospital would go on to provide medical care to sick children while cruising Boston Harbor for the next 33 years.
In 1905, due to the enormous success of the venture, Boston Floating Hospital was upgraded to a larger, 170-foot ship, expressly built to be a pediatric hospital. The larger ship enabled the creation of an inpatient unit, a pediatric nursing school and an onboard research facility. The hospital soon built a national reputation for making important contributions to the knowledge and treatment of childhood diseases. Many groundbreaking pediatric clinical, educational and research advances were made on the Floating Hospital ship as it sailed or docked in Boston Harbor.
A state-of-the-art facility – on land
In the 1920s, Floating Hospital created an on-shore facility for research and some clinical specialties. It also began an affiliation with Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts Medical Center's predecessor, the Boston Dispensary. Unfortunately, the Floating Hospital ship was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1927, but luckily, no patients were on board. Instead of rebuilding the ship, the hospital’s trustees decided to expand the on-shore program. In 1931, the Jackson Memorial Building opened, and Floating Hospital became an expanded, year-round full service pediatric facility with ongoing research activities.
Floating Hospital officially merged with Tufts Medical Center in 1965, but retained its own identity and rich, historic tradition. In 1982, the hospital moved into a state-of-the-art facility within the Tufts Medical Center complex.