First Lady discusses home for sick kids

Mississippi will soon have the state’s first pediatric palliative care facility. After more than six years of research and development, Mississippi is ready to lead the nation in long-term pediatric palliative care.

The Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children is a nonprofit organization based in Jackson. Its mission is to provide the first pediatric skilled nursing facility in the state of Mississippi that not only helps children and families transition from the hospital back to their homes but also provides long-term care for some of our state’s most vulnerable pediatric patients.

During the Governor’s State of the State address he announced the plans to create the Palliative Care Facility.

“With the leadership of the First Lady, UMMC and the Department of Human Services, we will soon begin construction on a long-term palliative care unit in Jackson’s medical zone,” Bryant said in January 2018. “The center will offer a home-like treatment facility for the medically fragile children who are now living at Batson. This will be a life-altering experience for those patients and their families. If there is ever a mission of mercy we can achieve, it is this palliative care medical home for the children of Blair E. Batson.”

The term “medically fragile” refers to an array of chronic medical conditions that require specialized care. Patients are typically medically dependent (i.e. infusion therapy, intravenous medications, etc.) or technologically dependent (i.e. ventilator, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), etc.).

During the legislative session, the House passed the bill that would help make the facility a reality. At the time Tom Weathersby, Chairman of the House Public Property Committee said that the non-profit, Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children, will build the facility at no cost to the state or the taxpayers.

The site for the building will be set on seven acres of undeveloped property on Lakeland Drive, east of I-55 near the Mississippi Library Commission and Mississippi Schools for the Blind and the Deaf. The total cost of the construction will be $10 million, according to Weathersby.

Four long-term patients, who currently live at Children’s Hospital, will be transitioned to the facility for permanent residency.

The facility will work closely with the Children’s Hospital to help families make the transition from the hospital back to their homes smoothly and safely. In addition, Families First for Mississippi will partner with the First Lady and UMMC on the project to offer services to families at the facility.

“We are committed to providing the children of Mississippi, and their families, with a place where they can make the transition from acute care to home as seamlessly as possible,” said Dawn-Michele Teachey, President of the Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children. “With this new facility, we will be able to better prepare families, who have chronically ill children, to feel comfortable and confident carrying on with their daily lives.”

Mrs. Bryant said the facility will be a 30-bed pediatric skilled nursing facility and that a variety of inpatient and outpatient services and therapies will be offered that are tailored to each pediatric patients’ needs. 

The vision for the facility is for it to be in a wooded area offering patients, and their families, a more “homelike” environment that bridges them to their daily lives.

“I feel that every child should be given every opportunity to live his or her ‘best life’ no matter the circumstances,” said First Lady Deborah Bryant. “The Mississippi Center for Medically Fragile Children is important to me because I personally know so many families whose lives will be improved and the difference it will make in our state.”