Special to Find It In Fondren (UMMC Public Affairs)
More than 1,000 babies and children each year receive life-changing and complex treatment at the Children’s Heart Center at Batson Children’s Hospital.
But current space allocated for such procedures is but a fraction of what’s needed. Ditto for staff, patient beds, and imaging equipment needed to diagnose and treat congenital heart defects, which affect nearly one out of every 100 babies born.
“We’re at a very critical point in the development of the Heart Center,” said Dr. Jorge Salazar, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center. Dr. Mary Taylor, chief of the divisions of pediatric critical care and pediatric cardiology, also is co-director.
The continued support and partnership of the PGA TOUR’s 2014 Sanderson Farms Championship and its host organization, the nonprofit Century Club Charities, is bringing the Heart Center closer to a much-needed expansion that could include 20-24 additional beds, new operating rooms, and an all-new specialized imaging center.
Officials with Century Club Charities yesterday presented a $1,102,700 check to the nonprofit Friends of Children’s Hospital, a volunteer organization that toils year-round to raise money for Batson. Century Club Charities’ generous donation comes from a portion of funds generated by the golf tournament held Nov. 3-9 at the Country Club of Jackson.
“Our goal was to get to a million dollars, and we were blessed with a great response from the sponsors and players, and good weather,” said Johnny Lang, president of Century Club Charities.
Profits from PGA TOUR events nationwide raise money for the chosen charity of tournament hosts. Sanderson Farms agreed in 2013 to take over title sponsorship of the local tournament. Century Club Charities, whose mission is to promote the game of golf for charitable benefit, last year presented a total $500,000 in tournament proceeds to Friends for growth of the Children’s Heart Center.
“We are pleased to have a part in the evolution of theÂ Children’s Heart Center, andÂ are excited to see what the future holds for this hospital,”Â said Joe Sanderson, CEO and chairman of the board of Sanderson Farms. “The primary reason this tournament exists is to raise money for Friends of Children’s Hospital, who in turn helps make Mississippi’s only children’s hospital a health-care destination.”
“This is a spectacular achievement,” said James E. Keeton, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs.Â “On behalf of UMMC, Children’s of Mississippi and all the future patients who will benefit from an addition to the children’s hospital, our heartfelt thanks go to Joe Sanderson, Friends volunteers, and all the people who had a hand in making this tournament a huge success.”
Currently, the Children’s Heart Center is virtual – not its own brick and mortar – but instead space allocated for heart services at Batson. The heart team has rapidly outgrown that space, and since the center’s creation in 2010, has operated on about 2,000 patients. Other procedures, including heart catheterizations and echocardiograms, bring the number treated to more than 5,000 babies and children.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have the infrastructure for sustainability. We need adequate rooms, ICU beds, operating rooms, and a pediatric imaging center to support the commitment we’ve made,” Salazar said.
“Now is the time to create an infrastructure for sustainability, and to make long-term care of these children a reality,” he said. “The contributions of the Sanderson family and the tournament will go a long way. It’s very timely that they are giving us this wonderful gift toward that mission.”
Batson and Children’s Heart Center supporters envision a new building to be constructed in the space adjacent to the current children’s hospital building. Among other things, it would house a new lobby and clinical space for the Children’s Heart Center, including surgical suites, a cardiac intensive care unit and an imaging center.Â A construction timeline and costs are still in the planning stages.
“Friends of Children’s Hospital is so thankful for the support provided by the Sanderson Farms Championship and Century Club Charities,” said Sara Ray, chairman of the Friends of Children’s Hospital board of directors. “The magnitude of the contribution from the 2014 tournament is overwhelming, and it will enable Friends of Children’s Hospital to fund our commitment to the Children’s Heart Center sooner than planned.”
“Part of the excitement about our affiliation with Friends of Children’s Hospital is that (the Championship) is the largest and only professional sporting event in the state, and we have the only children’s hospital in the state,” Lang said. “We are thrilled with this affiliation.”