Our Story

Love and Compassion for Children from the Beginning

1970s and 1980s – From Compassionate Beginning to a World-Class Facility

Children’s Habilitation Center was the vision of Dr. Lowell Zollar, a highly respected pediatrician who had worked as Chairman of Pediatrics at Mercy Hospital and then Jackson Park Hospital in addition to teaching at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Zollar envisioned a medical facility for young patients with severe medical problems where medical professionals would provide the best possible care in a welcoming and loving environment.

Dr. Zollar made plans for a facility in Harvey, Illinois, and worked alongside his sister, Pearl Rawls, a nurse and the project’s architect. Also involved was David Markle, who served as contractor on the project and shortly after became a co-founder. Other founding members were William Love, Eben Lightfoot, and Donald Blives.

In February 1972, Children’s Haven opened its doors as a licensed nursing home that could accommodate 140 non-medically complex patients. The center slowly evolved from there, beginning with the admission of residents with gastrostomy tubes for nutrition, followed by the addition of medical services for respiratory-related illnesses requiring tracheotomies.

Eventually, the center progressed in the experience of handling medically-complex pediatric cases, particularly those involving the most fragile of children. It began to be recognized as a premier provider of healthcare in the state for these children.

1990s – Continued Growth
During this decade Children’s Haven became Children’s Habilitation Center (CHC), an officially licensed 73-bed long-term care residence with an emphasis on providing pediatric care for individuals under the age of 22 — specifically those using ventilators.

David Markle became the first president of the Illinois Pediatric Facility Association, an office he held for 11 years. He accomplished many things including establishing state standards, pediatric-specific reimbursement, and the Pediatric Exceptional Care programs.

2000s to Today – Compassion in the Twenty-First Century
In 2007, Markle passed away after serving as Executive Director of CHC for 35 years. Dr. Zollar passed away 6 months later after serving as CHC’s Medical Director during the same time span. With CHC at an unexpected crossroads, Pam Markle, David’s daughter, accepted the position of CEO to continue CHC’s legacy as the only true long-term pediatric care facility in Illinois.

Today, CHC is licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health for 67 beds and continues to serve infants and children while being driven by our three core values: compassion, innovation, and holistic care. As our services evolved over the years, there were also many changes within the facility. The increased level of care resulted in the need for additional professional and licensed staff. The new additions to the staff included Respiratory Therapists, Trach Wound Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Physical Therapists, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistants, a Registered Dietitian, and a Psychologist.

CHC also provides onsite educational services to our children, with Doris Zollar playing an instrumental role in the creation of the educational program. The program is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education and has accreditation by the National Association of Special Education Teachers. Even our youngest children, those under the age of 3 years old, receive educational services in our early childhood development programs.

CHC is the largest member of the national Pediatric Complex Care Association in the United States to provide ventilator care, and continues setting the highest standards and providing the best cost-to-benefit holistic care of children with complex medical needs requiring ventilation than any other facility in the country.


  • CHC incorporated the latest medical technology and treatment options, such as body-warming blankets and wheelchairs molded to fit individual residents, to maintain its leadership in the field.
  • Medical training facilities teamed with CHC to offer their students the unique opportunity of clinical training at CHC.
  • Medical equipment manufacturers who wanted to test their latest advancements under the most difficult conditions would do so at CHC.
  • CHC began a highly successful decannulation program to wean children off ventilators.
  • In 2014, Pam Markle was instrumental in changing the exceptional care payment model to a new system that includes greater acuity.
  • In 2015, Markle was nominated and selected to the New Leadership Program of the Illinois Healthcare Association. She was also nominated for Administrator of the Year in Illinois.



“They actually care.”


“They have not failed me.”

Ms. Brown

“They’re taking good care of him.”