University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

History of CHSC

Child Health Specialty Clinics has been serving Iowa Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs for over 85 years. Established in 1936 as the Iowa State Services for Crippled Children (SSCC), the agency was renamed Iowa Specialized Child Health Services in 1981, and then Iowa Mobile and Regional Child Health Specialty Clinics (CHSC) in 1983.

SSCC received funding from Title V of the Social Security Act of 1935, which was enacted to deliver maternal and child welfare services and for "the development of a nation-wide program of medical, surgical, and after-care services for the physical restoration and social readjustment of crippled children." The focus of SSCC in the early years was orthopedics, and the model for the original field clinics was based on the work of Dr. Arthur Steindler. In 1915 he lobbied the Iowa legislature to pass the Perkins Act, which provided state-funded treatment at the University of Iowa Hospital for "any child under age sixteen afflicted with some deformity or suffering from some malady that probably can be remedied." In the law's first year, the hospital admitted 400 children under the Perkins Act; that number more than doubled the following year.

Dr. Ewen M. McEwen was the first director of SSCC, with offices located in the basement of the original children's hospital. Field clinics were soon developed across the state to evaluate "crippled children." Those needing hospital care, therapy, or surgery were transported from their home to the University Hospital by taxies, buses, trains, cars, and private ambulances. In 1932, Dr. Steindler helped organize a statewide, hospital-owned ambulance service, consisting of seveteen seven-passenger vehicles. Dr. Steindler also lobbied the Iowa legislature for funds to create the Children's Hospital at the University of Iowa in 1919, the first such specialty hospital in the state.