On Monday evening the board of directors at Children's Hospital National Medical Center held the facility's 110th annual meeting. Chaired by the board president, Mrs. Arnold B. McKinnon, the meeting jumped right into its theme, "Families."

"We have for a long time been a family institution," said Mrs. McKinnon. "Children's has been a pioneer in the family-oriented practice of pediatrics. Parents are encouraged to become involved in their child's care," she added.

Mrs. McKinnon also called attention to the White House Conference on Families, a project begun this year to analyze public policies and programs which affect families and assess ways to better strengthen and support the family unit.

"The sick who comes to Children's Hospital does not come alone," continued the president. "Each child brings not only a medical problem to us, but also a family affected by the child's illness.

"Children look to families for support, for reassurance, and for things medicine and health professionals can't provide. We need to encourage that support by striving to let the business of being a family continue while the child is a patient. By involving parents in care, by encouraging brothers and sisters to visit and to understand illness, and by trying to answer their questions, we help preserve and enhance the intricately woven network that is family."

The idea of family extends to the hospital itself, Mrs. McKinnon noted, "The people who work for the hospital, volunteer at the hospital, and sit in on decision-making boards of the hospital are all part of what we call 'the hospital family.' The character of the hospital depends on its hospital family just as the formation of a growing child depends on its family."

Other corporate board activity followed Mrs. McKinnon's remarks, including the election of new board members, and a showing of Children's award -- winning film "First Do No Harm."

One of the most interesting items for readers of "For the Love of Children' was the financial summary of operations for the year ended June 30, 1980. Patient revenues were listed as $61.7 million. Of that total, free care collection losses weighed in at $6.6 million and contractual allowances (amounts not paid by third party payers) cost $2.4 million, leaving a total operating revenues at $54.5 million. Unfortunately, operating expenses during that year came to $57 million, leaving a loss from operations at roughly $2.5 million.

That's a hefty deficit, but the nearly $1.7 million raised for the free care fund through community appeals such as ours helped offset the $6.6 million in free care "losses," and another $1 million from estates and bequests and yet another $600,000 from hospital investments resulted in a net gain for the hospital of about $800,000. Not bad for a hospital with a "built-in deficit." h

Of course, the free care fund once again ran away with top annual honors for being the most expensive aspect of children's work. The return of free care can't be calculated in dollars, but without fail, every doctor and technician in the hospital will tell you it's well worth the price.

Other interesting facts uncovered in the corporate discussions dealt with the distribution of Children's patients. The number of patients admitted from July 1, 1979 to June 30, 1980 was 10,966, and their average stay was about 6.2 days. More than 10,800 surgical procedcures were performed, over 50,000 X-rays were taken, and an incredible 745,215 laboratory tests were run. 5

The figures also revealed that the hospital currently draws about 65 percent of its inpatients from outside the District.Nonetheless, over 4,000 District children received treatment at the hospital last year, or more than half the children in the District who required hospitalization. Of the patients admitted, 16 percent hailed from Virginia, 35 percent were residents of Our Town, and 48 percent were Marylanders.

Children's Hospital is one of the foremost medical facilities in the nation. We're lucky enough to have it here, where it's available to all children, regardless of race or creed. The finest pediatric care is obtainable in Washington. And, if necessary, that treatment is free. It costs a lot, but sick children must be healed, and we have to help.