Dave and Priscilla O’Donnell are committed to the construction of a new seven-story children’s tower adjacent to Batson Children’s Hospital and have expressed this commitment with a $1 million gift to the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi. With this gift, they are funding the Priscilla and David O’Donnell Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Cardiac Wing.
The new PICU unit will be on the west side of the new Children’s of Mississippi tower. It will include 12 dedicated cardiac beds for management of medical and surgical (including pre- and post-operative) care for children with congenital heart defects.
“This gift will make an enormous difference in the health of our sickest cardiac patients,” said Dr. Brian Kogon, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery for Children’s of Mississippi. “We are so grateful for this gift and for the O’Donnells’ concern for our patients’ care.”
Dave O’Donnell’s project management background and his career as executive vice president of the Bowers Group, a mechanical contracting firm in Washington, D.C., might make one think the building process would pique the couple’s interest. Instead, it was their tour of Batson Children’s Hospital, the state’s only children’s hospital, that captured their thoughts.
“We took a look around,” he said, “and that did it.”
The O’Donnells divide their time between Mississippi and Baltimore, Maryland. The importance of children and family are values the two share – they have five daughters between the ages of 20 and 29.
A Mississippian by way of Florida, Priscilla O’Donnell has long known of Batson Children’s Hospital, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
“Because I remember when it opened,” she said, “I continued to think of it as new.”
She said seeing the neonatal intensive care unit, where as many as three times the number of babies for which it was designed are cared for, and other pediatric care areas was eye-opening.
“More space is needed for those babies,” she said, “and I feel for those families and their need to be with their children.”
“We have always thought about doing some sort of charitable giving,” Dave O’Donnell said, “and seeing the conditions at the current Batson Children’s Hospital was really a heart-wrenching experience. The doctors and nurses there are excellent, but they need a facility that matches their skill.
“We felt like we should do something for others, and it’s a good feeling to have the ability to do this. We’re just ordinary people who have been blessed with good luck and success.”
Priscilla O’Donnell said the timing of the couple’s donation and the groundbreaking event for the new facility – both during the holiday season – made the commitment more meaningful.
“We both feel really, really good about this,” she said.