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Medical teams stayed beside each of the dozen critically ill children moved into private PICU rooms inside the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower.
Medical teams stayed beside each of the dozen critically ill children moved into private PICU rooms inside the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower.
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Private pediatric intensive care rooms open at Sanderson Tower

Published on Tuesday, November 3, 2020

By: Annie Oeth, aoeth@umc.edu

Today some of Mississippi’s most critically ill and injured children have a state-of-the-art facility along with the experts and equipment they need.

This morning, 12 pediatric intensive care unit patients were moved from the PICU at Children’s of Mississippi’s Batson Tower, built in 1997, to a floor of larger private PICU rooms at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi that officially opened for patient care Monday.

Portrait of Dr. Jarrod Knudson
Knudson

“What happened this morning was a very technically orchestrated series of events the teams have been working on for quite some time,” said Dr. Jarrod Knudson, chief of Pediatric Critical Care. “Every day, we’ve been looking at our patient list and coming up with an order of move, talking with our respiratory and nursing services, talking with everybody on the team, making sure we have a patient-specific plan tailored to every single child.”

Planned and rehearsed months in advance, the transfer of patients was seamless, Knudson said. “The move was as smooth as glass. There were no significant issues at all.”

The 32 private PICU rooms in the Sanderson Tower include a dozen dedicated to young cardiac patients.

“The Sanderson Tower opening has created a lot of excitement in Children’s critical care,” Knudson said. “Almost three years ago, when we had the groundbreaking ceremony, we talked about the fact that we will now have the infrastructure to support our equipment and our staff. We have a very talented physician group, we have excellent nursing staff and respiratory therapy services, and we have the advanced equipment needed to care for these children. We just needed facilities to match, and the space. This opening completes the journey that brings us to having world-class critical care here in Mississippi.”

Sanderson-PICU-Move-20201103-28.jpg
A roomful of medical professionals helps in moving patient Trystan Keen into his private PICU room at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children's of Mississippi.

One of the patients moved from the Batson Tower to Sanderson’s private PICU rooms is Trystan Keen of Collins. The 14-year-old suffered extensive injuries in a car accident and has been in intensive care since Oct. 21. His parents, Brenda and Chris Keen, have stayed with him.

“We haven’t even left the hospital,” Brenda Keen said. “We wanted to stay close. Our baby is our heart.”

Before the accident, Trystan enjoyed hunting, fishing, video games and spending time with friends, Chris Keen said. “He’s got an outgoing personality, and he’s headstrong. He’s a fighter, and he’s fighting now to get better.”

Life-saving equipment moved with patients and their medical teams into new private pediatric intensive care rooms in the Sanderson Tower.
Life-saving equipment moved with patients and their medical teams into new private pediatric intensive care rooms in the Sanderson Tower.

The PICU rooms of the Sanderson Tower include private bathrooms and space where families can stay with their children during the healing process. A family lounge includes a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, microwave and television, as well as space to relax and to talk with other families.

The Sanderson Tower, which more than doubles the space devoted to pediatric care at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is a complement to the Batson Tower. Together, the two towers form the state’s only children’s hospital. Children’s of Mississippi, the pediatric arm of UMMC, includes the children’s hospital as well as outpatient specialty clinics around the state.

Portrait of Guy Giesecke
Giesecke

“We’ve talked about the need for the Sanderson Tower for 10 years, and now it has come to fruition,” said Children’s of Mississippi CEO Guy Giesecke. “The children need this, and we need it to grow so we can care for patients here in Mississippi.”

Knudson said the advances of the Sanderson Tower are vital for the state’s children and families. “It’s very important that we have a facility like this in Mississippi because we are the only children’s hospital in the state,” he said. “Children all the way out to the borders rely on us to provide the standard of care in every facet of what we do. That includes having the space to bring in life support machines and surgical teams in the event we need to perform life-saving procedures in their hospital room.”

The Sanderson Tower is named for Sanderson Farms CEO Joe Sanderson and his wife, Kathy, who launched the campaign to help fund the construction of the tower with a $10 million personal gift. The Sandersons went on to chair the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, which has raised more than 84 percent of its $100 million goal so far.

The Sanderson Tower’s opening began Monday with surgery, specialty clinics and an imaging center with MRI machines that look more like a lighthouse and a pirate ship than medical equipment.

In moves that have been rehearsed for months, medical teams escorted patients from the Batson PICU to the pediatric intensive care floor at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower.
In moves that have been rehearsed for months, medical teams escorted patients from the Batson PICU to the pediatric intensive care floor at the Sanderson Tower.

Among the first patients Monday was Felton Walker, whose mother, Liz Walker of Jackson, serves on the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi’s Steering Committee. Felton, 14, has seen Children’s of Mississippi experts since his neuromuscular disease diagnosis at age 4.

In 2017, the Dr. and Mrs. Faser Triplett Foundation – named for Liz Walker’s parents Faser, the first board-certified allergist in Mississippi, and his wife, Jackie – made a $1 million gift to the campaign.

“Felton has received such incredible care here that we decided it would be special to us to give back,” she said. “We know the importance of this facility, too, and the difference it will make for generations of children.”

The opening of the children’s hospital expansion continues Wednesday, when patients and their parents will move from the Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants into two floors of private neonatal intensive care rooms in the Sanderson Tower.