JACKSON, MISS– Friends of Children’s Hospital, a non-profit group dedicated to raise money for Blair E. Batson Children’s hospital, has pledged $20 million dollars over the next decade to the facility’s capital campaign.
“Friends of Children’s Hospital is extremely proud of the $17 million we’ve raised since 1989 and the impact that it’s had on improving health care for Mississippi’s children,” said Sara Ray, board chairman of the group. “We were among the first on board when the Medical Center needed support to build Batson Children’s Hospital in 1997 and have contributed annually ever since to enhance the patient and family experience.”
The money pledged to the $100 million dollar campaign will go towards much needed expansions and upgrades for the state’s only pediatric hospital.
“Our NICU is really outdated in its design,” said Rick Barr, Chair of Pediatrics at Children’s of Mississippi. “We’re going to expand hospital beds and ICU beds, we’re going to build a new heart center.. and we have a huge volume in imaging, so we need a child-friendly, child-designed imaging center. So that’s a huge part of the expansion.”
Barr added that the technology and expansion are large parts of the project, but that the dire need is to make healthcare easier on the patients and their parents.
“All of our clinics are spread out over the city,” said Barr. “It’s hard for our patients to see more than one doctor at a time. We’re going to build a large building to put all of our physicians in so it is really convenient for patients and they can get the care they need.”
The $20 million will go towards the $100 million capital campaign, chaired by Joe and Kathy Sanderson, which started in April with a personal $10 million pledge from the Sanderson Farms chairman and CEO and his wife.
Said Joe Sanderson: “We believe that the hospital is at maximum capacity and needs updated infrastructure in several vital areas. The hospital is beyond capacity in the neonatal intensive care unit and is badly in need of additional space. Children are transported long distances to the adult hospital for vital diagnostic imaging procedures, often requiring sedation. And further, there needs to be additional facilities for pediatric surgeries, particularly cardiac surgery.”
University of Mississippi Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said the commitment to excellence shown by Friends of Children’s Hospital volunteers and leaders is a testament to their long-time support of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s pediatric care.
“Part of the University of Mississippi’s mission is improving the lives of Mississippians, and central to that worthy goal is helping our children lead healthy lives through excellent pediatric care at Children’s of Mississippi,” Vitter said. “We thank Friends of Children’s Hospital for their generosity and vision for the future of health care.”
(Pic above: Friends of Children’s Hospital board chair Sara Ray, left, is thanked by Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, for the nonprofit group’s $20 million pledge to the Children’s of Mississippi capital campaign.)