A Life Dedicated to the Health of Children
The passion for a child's health and well-being takes many forms. Some people become doctors. Others build hospitals. Some become donors and volunteers. Others work tirelessly on hospital boards. And some even pursue their passion for pediatric health by serving on insurance company boards to ensure children receive specialized coverage and care.
And then you have Marshall Rowen, MD, who has done it all. Through a lifetime of service, he has tirelessly juggled each of these roles so that "every child receives the highest quality care," no matter their ability to pay.
Dr. Rowen's journey began in Chicago, where he earned his M.D. and M.S. (Internal Medicine) degrees from the University of Illinois. A trip out to sunny California in the mid-1950s convinced him to complete his residency out West. During his radiology training at the Los Angeles Veteran's Administration Hospital at UCLA, he found himself spending every weekend for three years at Children Hospital Los Angeles — and falling in love with pediatrics.
"Nothing is more fulfilling than seeing children coming into the hospital listless and crying, and the vast majority bouncing out with a smile on their face," Dr. Rowen said. "Pediatric radiology is particularly rewarding because children often cannot tell you where it hurts, so images must speak for them."
After serving as head of Pediatric Radiology at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dr. Rowen was all set to join a practice in the San Fernando Valley. Yet a visit to Disneyland with a side trip to St. Joseph Hospital of Orange caught the young radiologist's attention. And when he learned that a new children's hospital was slated to be built next to St. Joseph Hospital, "I completely changed my plans. Within six weeks, my wife, Helen, and I found a house and moved to Orange County."
And so began Dr. Rowen's decades-long relationship with CHOC Children's. He moved to Orange County in January 1961, and worked on the executive committee that laid the groundwork for Children's Hospital of Orange County, which opened in 1964.
Dr. Rowen was the first pediatric radiologist in Orange County and was appointed CHOC Children's first Director of Radiology. He also served as Chief of the Medical Staff. During his career, pediatric radiology evolved into diagnostic imaging, and he had a front-row seat to the advent of ultrasound, CT scanning and MRI. He authored more than 35 scientific presentations. Through Moran Rowen and Dorsey, Inc., Radiology, he provided imaging services to more than 1 million patients in Orange County.
Dr. Rowen serves as a Professor of Radiology and Pediatrics at UC Irvine, spent decades on the Blue Shield Corporate Board and then the Blue Cross Physicians Relations Committee, and was a President of five Medical Societies including the California Radiological Society and the Pacific Coast Pediatric Radiology Association. Dr. Rowen brings this unique expertise to CHOC Children's and the CHOC Foundation Board.
Dr. Rowen's service to CHOC Children's continues today. The boardrooms in both the old and new hospitals are named after him, and aptly so - he has spent countless hours within those walls helping navigate the hospital through a sea of change and challenges. Dr. Rowen has served on the Children's Hospital Board for close to five decades, including eight years as Chair of Children's Healthcare of California, the parent board for all CHOC Children's entities. Currently, he is the Vice Chairman of C.H.C. and chairs the Finance, Investment and Real Estate Committees.
In addition to countless hours of service as an advocate for CHOC Children's, Dr. Rowen has been a generous donor — motivated by his desire to help the hospital fulfill its mission to "nurture, advance and protect the health and well-being of children."
"CHOC Children's takes any child who needs medical care," Dr. Rowen said. "The challenge over the years has been how to continue doing this. The answer is to run the hospital efficiently to create an operating profit and then supplement it by fundraising."
In this new health care environment, fundraising is more crucial than ever, he added. "There is no way that hospitals, especially a children's hospital, can provide services to every patient without donor support. And donor support helps all children treated at CHOC Children's by elevating the quality of care we are able to deliver. It is absolutely essential."
A youthful 86, Dr. Rowen continues to dedicate time, energy and funds to the pediatric hospital he helped bring to fruition 52 years ago. He is proud of his accomplishments, "but there is much more we all must continue to do."