Future of pediatrics in Mississippi begins taking shape this monthPublished on Friday, December 1, 2017Media Contact: Annie OethConstruction will begin this month on a $180 million children’s tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital, bringing celebration but also changes for hospital patients’ families and visitors.Families of patients and visitors to the hospital are asked to park in Garage B and access Batson Children’s Hospital through the Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants entrance across the street from the garage. Signs showing directions to the children’s hospital are posted in the Wiser Hospital lobby.Parking lots 16 and 17 beside Children’s Hospital have closed to make way for the project, a seven-story, 240,000-square-foot tower that will include space for 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, additional pediatric intensive care unit space, 10 new operating rooms and a pediatric imaging unit. A pediatric specialty clinic is also planned. The Children’s Heart Center, representing the Medical Center’s pediatric cardiovascular program, will be located in the new building.Giesecke“We are so excited about this construction and all it will mean for the children we serve and their families,” said Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi, the umbrella organization that includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all UMMC pediatric care. “We realize that construction will mean changes, and also some inconveniences, which we hope will be minimal, and we thank our patients and visitors for their patience and understanding.”A groundbreaking celebration took place Dec. 1, bringing leaders in medicine, government and philanthropy together with patients and their families. The tower’s opening is planned for August 2020.Children’s of Mississippi leaders anticipate recruiting 30-40 new physicians in the next five years as the facility is built and after it is opened, since it will provide additional capacity. At a minimum, about 50-75 staff positions, not including physicians, would be added after construction.Woodward“We have outstanding physicians and the best staff, and they have a passion for caring for patients,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “What we need now are the facilities to match that quality of care.“The time has come for a transformation.”The construction is funded in part by the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, a philanthropic effort launched in 2016. Co-chairs Joe Sanderson Jr., CEO and board chair of Sanderson Farms, and his wife, Kathy, made a personal $10 million pledge.Joe Sanderson Jr. and wife Kathy celebrate the coming construction of a new seven-story children's tower adjacent to Batson Children's Hospital. The two chair the Campaign for Children's of Mississippi and launched the philanthropic effort with a $10 million personal donation.Friends of Children’s Hospital, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising funds for Batson Children’s Hospital, followed the Sandersons’ gift with a $20 million pledge later that year.With a goal of $100 million, the Campaign for Children’s has raised $60 million so far and is still underway.Dr. Mary Taylor“I’m from Mississippi,” said Natchez native Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, “and this hospital means more to you than you know. This new hospital tower will be transformational for the children of Mississippi.“This is what the children of Mississippi need and what the children of Mississippi deserve.”(In the photo above: Those breaking ground on a new seven-story, 340,000-square-foot children's tower included, in the front sandbox, from left, Dr. LouAnn Woodward, First Lady Deborah Bryant, Gov. Phil Bryant, Megan Bell and daughter Avery Bell, Joe Sanderson Jr., Kathy Sanderson, Dr. Mary Taylor, Guy Giesecke and Doris Whitaker.)Want to help ‘Santa’ at Batson Children’s Hospital?Christmas donations should be dropped off at the entrance to the Winfred L. Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, Dec. 18-21.