Celebrating Women's History

Riley Children’s Foundation marks 100th anniversary

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — For 100 years, the Riley Children’s Foundation has been a resource for Indiana children and parents. Named after the poet James Whitcomb Riley, whose work consisted of mainly children’s poems, children remain the focus for the hospital bearing his name.

Every year, more than 300,000 children visit Riley Hospital for Children. It can be sad imagining that many children need medical attention each year. But Riley representatives said it’s been a 100-year commitment made not just by the staff but the Hoosiers around the state.

There’s a lot to be said about Riley Hospital for Children. Liz Elkas welcomed two children of her own into the world here.

“I look at Riley as the beacon to the state of Indiana. It is a place of hope. It is a place of caring. It is a place of trust,” Elkas said.

But she’s more than a Riley mom. She’s the president and CEO of the Riley Children’s Foundation. There’s always work to do here. But the prime focus of that work — for 100 years now — falls back on the children.

She credits ongoing public support for much of its success.

“That momentum hasn’t stopped, so many people throughout the state support Riley and its incredible mission. People care about children and children’s health,” she said.

Every year, 320,000 patients pass through the doors. Like any hospital, the end results aren’t always happy. But Elkas said steps are always being taken to make some of the toughest moments in life a little less scary.

In reference to the many programs offered, Elkas said, “I’m happy you brought that up. It does all of the above. It helps delay the fear. It does bring joy to children. That program, along with our therapy program, our social work program, child life program. Our critical programs that are there to help children in the hospital get through this time and get through it successfully and calm their nerves in the process.”

On top of that, the hospital is building a new facility, specifically for moms and their babies. Elkas says it’ll be a state-of-the-art facility, but another major purpose centers on addressing infant mortality rates, which she says are alarmingly high in Indiana.

“I’m honored, I’m amazed every day with Riley Hospital for Children and all that it accomplishes,” Elkas said.

While the foundation is celebrating 100 years, the actual Riley Hospital for Children will recognize its centennial year in 2024.