February

In the News - Spring 2015

Published on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Published on February 10, 2015

A kaleidoscope of significant news from Batson.

Hospital expansion to transform children’s health care in Mississippi

Part of the Children's expansion project is a new children's facility adjacent to Batson Children's Hospital. Batson will also undergo renovations as part of the project.
Part of the Children's expansion project is a new children's facility adjacent to Batson Children's Hospital. Batson will also undergo renovations as part of the project.

Children's of Mississippi is planning a building project that includes extensive renovations to Batson Children's Hospital and an expansive new facility next door.

"This will be a transformational project for pediatric health care in Mississippi," said Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics.

Specifics for the space are still being worked out, but administrators say the building will make room for growing patient volumes and open up pediatric-dedicated space for imaging that Batson, completed in 1997, is lacking. 

Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi, said the hospital and statewide network of clinics that make up Children's of Mississippi have seen consistent growth in each of the last five years.

"As a result, we are seeing challenges with space in areas such as surgery, our neonatal intensive care unit, clinics and other space," Giesecke said. "Also, as we expand our clinics and physicians into the northern and southern regions of Mississippi, it is vital that we have the facilities available to accommodate the thousands of children across the state being referred for treatment that can't be provided in their hometown." 

The initial stage of the expansion will cost upwards of $150 million. Funding will come from a combination of donated funds, clinical revenue bonds and state support. The Medical Center has asked state legislators for $30 million and $6 million of that was approved in this year's session.

Working with HDR Architects of Dallas, Texas, Children's of Mississippi officials expect construction to begin within a year and a half and to be completed inside of four years.

Current plans for the project include a new neonatal intensive care unit. Batson operates the only Level IV NICU in the state for babies requiring the most specialized care. With 100 beds, the unit stays at or near capacity, so the new space will house more beds, and existing beds will be renovated.

Services for the Children's Heart Center also will be brought together under one roof. The center's existing services are scattered across the UMMC campus and the space is insufficient for the program's swift and dramatic growth.

The new space will include 24 inpatient beds, two operating rooms, a cardiovascular intensive care unit and catheterization labs for heart patients.

Additional pediatric clinics also are proposed for the project, as is an imaging and radiology unit dedicated to pediatric patients.

Currently, pediatric patients receive CT scans, MRIs and nuclear medicine scans in the same area as adult patients. Barr believes a separate, child-friendly unit is a must for the future because imaging and radiology for children is vastly different than for adults.

"Those differences include not only creating a child- and parent-friendly and welcoming environment, but also a possible increased use of sedation for kids and different imaging techniques to minimize the amount of radiation used," Barr said. "That is especially important in kids who are rapidly growing and developing."

Finally, the Children's Hospital addition would feature a new multistory lobby that would provide a welcoming space for children and families, as well as an array of support services to make their stay as comfortable as possible.

"Mississippi strives to take care of its own, and Batson Children's Hospital is a statewide resource that provides care at the level of any regional children's hospital nationwide," said Giesecke. "We're constantly working to develop services that meet the needs of our patients and we are here for all of Mississippi's children."

BankPlus CheckCard raises $627,195 for Friends of Children's Hospital

Football great Eli Manning, back row second from left, joined BankPlus president and CEO Bill Ray, front row second from right, in presenting a $627,195 donation generated by the Friends of Children's Hospital CheckCard. Joining in the presentation are, back row from left, Friends board members Susan Shands-Jones, Bruce Leach and Bryan Jones, Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, and Dr. Jimmy Keeton, distinguished professor and advisor to the vice chancellor. Front row from left, Rob Armour, Friends president and BankPlus executive vice-president and chief marketing & business development officer, Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi and Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean, School of Medicine.
Football great Eli Manning, back row second from left, joined BankPlus president and CEO Bill Ray, front row second from right, in presenting a $627,195 donation generated by the Friends of Children's Hospital CheckCard. Joining in the presentation are, back row from left, Friends board members Susan Shands-Jones, Bruce Leach and Bryan Jones, Dr. Rick Barr, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, and Dr. Jimmy Keeton, distinguished professor and advisor to the vice chancellor. Front row from left, Rob Armour, Friends president and BankPlus executive vice-president and chief marketing & business development officer, Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children's of Mississippi and Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean, School of Medicine.

It's a story of the "little check card that could," according to BankPlus President and CEO Bill Ray.

Ray was referring to the BankPlus Friends of Children's Hospital CheckCard, first issued in November 2011. He and other representatives from BankPlus, including football legend Eli Manning, gathered in the lobby of Batson Children's Hospital in March to present $627,195 raised from the check card since its inception. 

The card carries a $12 fee per year, which is donated entirely to Friends. BankPlus then matches the fees for the first 4,000 cards each year and donates an additional five cents each time a card is used. The 11,000 active cards average about 200,000 swipes each month.

"You might think those are small amounts, but that's the power of so many people working together," Ray said. "We're so thankful to our customers."

Ray said the CheckCard is expected to raise about $25,000 to $30,000 a month and continue to grow. 

Manning and his father Archie have been spokespersons for BankPlus for many years. The Mannings, particularly Eli, have been champions of the children's hospital since 2004, when Ray organized Eli's and Archie's first visit to Batson.  That visit initiated a five-year commitment to the Friends event, "An Evening with the Mannings presented by BankPlus," that raised $3 million to fund construction of the Eli Manning Children's Clinics at the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.

A father to three young daughters, Eli Manning said he enjoys seeing and hearing about the hospital's growth. As he always does when at the hospital, he spent some time with patients after the presentation.

"The support that BankPlus and Eli have shown to our patients and to Friends of Children's Hospital over the years is incredible," said Dr. Rick Barr, the Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics. "I don't think any of us dreamed this check card would end up making this kind of an impact and we're so grateful to everyone involved."

Friends' president Rob Armour, who also serves as executive vice president and chief marketing and business development officer for BankPlus, expressed amazement at how the check card program has grown.

"As a member of the BankPlus team, I am proud that we created such a wonderful tool," he said. "As a parent whose children have been cared for at Batson and as the president of Friends of Children's Hospital, I am able to see the difference the contributions are making here every day."

Tournament hits a ‘hole in $1M’ for Mississippi’s children

Sharing in the presentation of a $1.1 million check (from left) Steve Jent, tournament director of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament; Johnny Lang, president of tournament host Century Club Charities, former UMMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and School of Medicine Dean Dr. James Keeton; Gov. Phil Bryant; Friends board chair Sara Ray; Jackson Mayor  Tony Yarber; Sanderson Farms CEO Joe  F. Sanderson, Jr.; and Friends president Rob Armour.
Sharing in the presentation of a $1.1 million check (from left) Steve Jent, tournament director of the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament; Johnny Lang, president of tournament host Century Club Charities, former UMMC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and School of Medicine Dean Dr. James Keeton; Gov. Phil Bryant; Friends board chair Sara Ray; Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber; Sanderson Farms CEO Joe F. Sanderson, Jr.; and Friends president Rob Armour.

Mississippi children's lives, Gov. Phil Bryant says, have "literally been saved" thanks to generous gifts benefiting Batson Children's Hospital from the professional golf tournament now known as the Sanderson Farms Championship.

"Parents come here to see miracles done for their children," Bryant said Jan. 6 at the hospital as officials from Sanderson Farms, the tournament's title sponsor, and Century Club Charities, the host organization, announced a record $1.1 million gift to Friends of Children's Hospital, a fundraising organization for Batson.

The gift was generated from the 2014 tournament in November at the Country Club of Jackson. It comes as Friends of Children's Hospital is fulfilling its pledge to raise $2 million to help build a pediatric heart center at Batson. The Children's Heart Center currently occupies space at Batson, but has no bricks-and-mortar home of its own.

More than 1,000 babies and children each year receive life-changing and complex treatment at the Children's Heart Center, 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.

The continued support of the championship and Century Club Charities is bringing the Heart Center closer to the much-needed expansion that could include 20-24 additional beds, new operating rooms and an all-new specialized imaging center.

Century Club Charities last year presented $500,000 in tournament proceeds to Friends - an amount more than doubled by this year's $1,102,700 donation.

"We are pleased to have a part in the evolution of the Children's Heart Center, and are excited to see what the future holds for this hospital," said Joe F. Sanderson Jr., Sanderson Farms' CEO and board chairman. "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."

Since the Children's Heart Center's creation in 2010, its team has operated on approximately 2,000 patients. Other procedures, including heart catheterizations and echocardiograms, bring the number treated to more than 5,000 babies and children.

Children’s selects top nursing officer

Michelle Welander
Michelle Welander

Michelle Welander, a longtime nurse and leader at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, was named chief nursing and clinical services officer of Batson Children's Hospital and its statewide network of clinics, Children's of Mississippi, on Oct. 13.

She succeeds Terri Gillespie, who was named the Medical Center's chief nursing executive officer and chief nursing officer of the adult hospitals.

"I'm excited to continue moving the children's hospital forward and expanding on the foundation Terri has created for our health-care team," Welander said.

Welander joined the Medical Center as a staff nurse after earning her B.S.N. at the Mississippi University for Women School of Nursing in Columbus.

She said she began her career in pediatric nursing "with a passion to make a difference in the lives of children and their families." That passion was rooted in her experiences with the nurses who took care of her family during her mother's battle with breast cancer.

During the past 20 years, she has steadily worked her way up to her most recent position as director of children's heart services and clinical director of children's critical care. During that time, she also earned her M.S.N. in nursing and hospital administration summa cum laude and her D.N.P., both at the UMMC School of Nursing. 

Guy Giesecke, Children's of Mississippi chief executive officer, said Welander's leadership has been a major reason for Children's of Mississippi's success during the last several years. 

"She's led some major initiatives and improvements for the children's hospital and she's done an outstanding job," he said. "She cares deeply about the development of her team and her leaders, who have all progressed very well with great a attitudes.

"As a leader, she is able to instill those qualities in her team."

Perioperative services eclipses decade of service at BCH

Dr. Edwin Harmon, second from right, professor of pediatric urology, and Vicki Rhymes, center, shift supervisor, cut the 10th anniversary cake while, from left, Shannon Furrer, RN, Angela Smith, surgical tech and Ashley Taylor, RN, look on.
Dr. Edwin Harmon, second from right, professor of pediatric urology, and Vicki Rhymes, center, shift supervisor, cut the 10th anniversary cake while, from left, Shannon Furrer, RN, Angela Smith, surgical tech and Ashley Taylor, RN, look on.

Batson Perioperative Services marked its 10-year anniversary Nov. 4, with a celebration on the surgical unit.

Individuals who have been part of the periop team since the opening of Batson Children's Hospital's sixth and seventh floors in November 2004 received special recognition.

Physician, family discuss near-drowning victim's remarkable recovery

From left, Dr. Mary Taylor, chief of pediatric critical care, Chasity, little Helena and Ray White discuss Helena's remarkable recovery with the media.
From left, Dr. Mary Taylor, chief of pediatric critical care, Chasity, little Helena and Ray White discuss Helena's remarkable recovery with the media.

Cameras flashed and video rolled as Helena White entered a conference room at Batson Children's Hospital Jan. 9.

The 5-year-old shyly looked to her mother, Chasity, as she walked further into the room to give local media their first view at her remarkable recovery from a near-drowning accident on Dec. 28, 2014.

For almost two weeks, Helena's condition remained atop national newsfeeds as the public watched for signs of improvement from the little girl who had been submerged under cold water in an overturned vehicle for several minutes before being rescued by good Samaritans. Another person who arrived on the scene was familiar with CPR and was able to help Helena regain a pulse.

Dr. Mary Taylor, head of pediatric critical care, was working the night Helena was rushed to the hospital. Speaking to the media at the same event Helena attended, Taylor listed the several factors that contributed to what is expected to be a full recovery.

"The first point is she was wearing a seatbelt," said Taylor, noting that the restraints prevented Helena from suffering more injuries that could have affected her recovery. "Secondly, the person who performed CPR on the scene within the first moments of rescuing her from the car, that was critical to her good outcome. It was life-saving."

Helena was then rushed to Batson Children's Hospital, where she was awake and crying, which was a good sign, said Taylor. And once physicians started working on getting the child's breathing back to the levels necessary to sustain a healthy circulation, doctors sedated Helena to help her lungs recover from their injuries.

"At that point, her treatment became managing the side effects of her having nearly drowned," said Taylor. By keeping Helena sedated while on a ventilator, her lungs were able to recover.

And once the ventilator was removed and the sedatives wore off, everyone was thrilled to see that Helena did not suffer any brain damage from the near-drowning, said Taylor.

"Children are pretty resilient, and they heal a bit quicker than adults do," Taylor said.

As Helena was getting ready to leave the press conference, her mother stroked her daughter's hair and thanked the health-care workers at Children's for their help in getting her daughter back.

"Everyone has been so great," she said. "Helena even said, 'I love my doctors and nurses. They've been so sweet to me.'"

Of all the things she's seen while working in the pediatric field, Taylor said Helena and her happy ending is one that's likely to always stand out.

Study hints at potential autism treatment

Dr. Rick Lin, professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, co-authored an article showing rodent brains can be rewired to remove autism-like symptoms. The new study could be a breakthrough in how autistic humans may be treated.
Dr. Rick Lin, professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences, co-authored an article showing rodent brains can be rewired to remove autism-like symptoms. The new study could be a breakthrough in how autistic humans may be treated.

In a study that could one day translate into an effective treatment for patients with autism spectrum disorders, a team of Mississippi and California researchers have shown that a brain can be rewired, said co-author Dr. Rick Lin, UMMC professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences.

The team's findings were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). For now the results are limited to rodents, but they've proven these animals' brains can be rewired via intense auditory behavioral training, said Lin.

The UMMC researchers, working with University of California in San Francisco researcher Dr. Michael Merzenich, focused on the plasticity of the brain, asking if neurological distortions could be reversed - or overcome - by simple forms of brain training. They discovered a potential reset button.

The discovery immediately drew questions of what the findings could mean for treatment of ASD in humans. However, researchers caution that could be some time away.

"The most amazing part, the reason why this paper is so important and can bring hope to families with autistic children, is this is the first study to ever show on the animal side that the brain can be rewired after intensive auditory training," said Lin. "What might be our future strategy on the human side is that we need to find a very supportive system to enforce these lessons with the kids. But these have to be intense interventions. We have to push much harder."

Children’s pediatrician hosts call-in radio show

Dr. Jimmy Stewart
Dr. Jimmy Stewart

Southern Remedy, Mississippi Public Broadcasting's flagship wellness franchise made possible in part by support of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, broadcasts a statewide call-in radio show each weekday from 11 a.m. to noon.

On Thursdays the show deals with health-related issues associated with kids and teens and is hosted by UMMC pediatrician Dr. Jimmy Stewart. Recent show topics include self-esteem in children, childhood obesity, rashes and bumps, and problems associated with dyslexia.

Tune in to your local MPB Radio station Thursdays at 11 a.m. The next show could be a topic of personal interest to you and your family.

Volunteer of the Year puts focus on Batson patients, families

Hewlett-Packard retiree Willie Brown has been named Volunteer of the Year for his work at Batson Children's Hospital.
Hewlett-Packard retiree Willie Brown has been named Volunteer of the Year for his work at Batson Children's Hospital.

From offering directions to giving a kind word or smile to patients and visitors, volunteers at the Medical Center have long been celebrated for their selfless service to all who enter through the hospitals' doors.

The hundreds of volunteers are a vital part of UMMC and its operations, while patients and families rely on their assistance to navigate the maze of hallways and offices on campus.

In 2014, a volunteer who works at Batson Children's Hospital and at the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants was recognized for his outstanding service.

Retiree Willie Brown has become a notable fixture along the halls of Batson and Wiser hospitals, said volunteer coordinator Angela Compere.

"Willie is just so pleasant to work with, willing to do whatever," she said, pointing out he arrives every Wednesday at 5 a.m. since he started volunteering more than two years ago.

In addition to working at the desks of the pediatric ICU and pediatric operating room, Brown also takes it upon himself to keep the floors of the hospitals stocked with snacks.

It's not Brown's first time to be recognized for his work, but the Hewlett-Packard retiree said he's been blessed with a healthy life and volunteering, the most sincere form of customer service, helps keep him grounded. 

"My reward is listening to some of these people, talking to them and just witnessing the positive attitude they've got," said Brown.

When families receive hard news, Brown said he remembers his face is one of the first they'll see.

"A lot of times they just need someone to talk to," he said. "A lot of these parents, this is their second home. So anything you can do to get a smile out of them, that's what's worth it."

For volunteer opportunities at Batson, contact coordinator Angela Compere at (601) 815-8277 or email her at acompere@umc.edu.

Batson Children’s Day signals new partnership with Jackson

Children's of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke (left) accepts a proclamation declaring November 14 as Batson Children's Day from Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber, his wife Rosalind Yarber, and their daughter, Toni Michelle.
Children's of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke (left) accepts a proclamation declaring November 14 as Batson Children's Day from Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber, his wife Rosalind Yarber, and their daughter, Toni Michelle.

Life as they knew it dramatically changed for Jackson parents Tony and Rosalind Yarber when they got a chilling diagnosis: Their baby, Toni Michelle, had ovarian cancer.

But thanks to the care of pediatrician Dr. Gail Megason and her team at Batson Children's Hospital, Toni Michelle today is a healthy 9-year-old.

Her father, a former Jackson City Council member who now serves as mayor, is grateful for the care provided not just to his child, but to thousands of others who cope with chronic or life-threatening diseases.

Yarber proclaimed Nov. 10, 2014, Batson Children's Day and presented Guy Giesecke, CEO of Batson, with a proclamation honoring faculty and staff for their exemplary care.

"One of the ways to give back . . . is to use this bully pulpit to celebrate and support a hospital that supported my family during a very hard time, and to ensure that every Jacksonian, every Mississippian, understands and knows that," Yarber said before reading the proclamation.

"It is the vision of the city of Jackson to ensure that the influential work of Blair E. Batson is championed and honored throughout our state and nation," the proclamation reads in part, giving tribute to the revered physician and first chairman of UMMC's Department of Pediatrics, for whom the hospital is named.

That document heralds a new day for the hospital and the city, Giesecke said.

"This is the beginning of a new partnership" with Jackson, he said during a news conference to announce the proclamation. "We have a big responsibility as a children's hospital, and we take it very seriously. We've taken on a new mission in the last couple of years to touch and have an impact on every child in Mississippi.

"We want to have an influence on their health and well-being."

After receiving a diagnosis of a teratoma of her ovary, Toni Michelle had surgery and was followed for five years by Megason, professor of pediatric hematology-oncology and director of Children's of Mississippi Cancer Center, and her staff. Toni Michelle is now a student in the Jackson School District's Academic and Performing Arts Complex.

New pediatric specialists added to Children's faculty

To meet the growing needs of its patients, Children's of Mississippi added the following specialists to its staff recently. For more information about Children's of Mississippi services or to make an appointment, visit www.ummchealth.com/children.

Gretchen Zimma, M.D. ............... Emergency Medicine and Infectious Disease

Julia Sherwood, M.D. ................. Child Development

Renate Savich, M.D. ................... Neonatology

Khyati Pandya, M.D. .................... Cardiology

Jana Sperka, M.D. ........................ Critical Care and General Pediatrics, Tupelo

Anju Sukumaran, M.D. .................. Endocrinology

Praveen Kumar, M.D. ..................... Ambulatory Pediatrics, Grenada

Julie Kaplan, M.D. ........................... Genetics

Oscar Rodriguez, M.D. .................... Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine