Pediatric cancer, blood treatments move temporarily to Wiser to make room for renovations
Published on Monday, April 3, 2023
By: Annie Oeth, firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos By: Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Communications
A harbinger of renovations to come, the temporary location of Children’s of Mississippi’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants opened March 27.
Outpatient care at the Batson Tower-based center will be in the Wiser Tower to make room for work to begin on a more than $5 million renovation project. The lab at the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders will move in early April, the last move before more substantial work begins.
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders’ exam rooms and infusion area are now in what was once neonatal intensive care space and offices on the first floor of the Wiser Tower. The space was available since two floors of private neonatal intensive care rooms were opened at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower in 2020.
“This space is really nice. The planning and coordinated effort that went into moving our clinic to a temporary location was really impressive,” said Dr. Betty Herrington, professor of pediatric hematology and oncology, as she walked into the bright infusion area that features large windows that overlook green space on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus.
Care team members are making the space child friendly. Child life specialist Ashley Prendez had a collection of books, board games and art project kits available to patients and was making plans to add a few aquatic touches, a theme in the original center space.
“We’re going to add some ‘Under the Sea’ décor to make the room where blood draws are done more calming,” she said.
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Mississippi is the state’s only pediatric cancer center and is among the largest pediatric sickle cell disease treatment programs in the country, treating more than 900 patients with the blood disorder.
The center opened in 1991 with a $2 million contribution by the Junior League of Jackson. The Batson Tower, which was built on top of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, soon followed and opened in 1997.
Since then, the needs of its patients have changed with advances in treatment. Care that once required hospitalization can now be provided on an outpatient basis. This has increased the need for additional exam rooms as well as more space inside the center’s infusion room.
“When the center opened, access was by the ring road around the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus,” said Katie Lightsey Browning, the Cooke Douglass Farr Lemons architect who created the center’s renovation plans. “Patients and their families would enter by walking up the steps outside the building and into the lobby. That circulation has changed, so the new design will support that and make wayfinding to the center easier.”
The new clinic space will include 14 examination rooms, an increase from eight. The center’s infusion room, currently an open space for eight, will be enlarged to house 20 semi-private infusion bays. Each bay will have an infusion chair, guest chair, and electronics to keep patients entertained. Opened through philanthropy, the center is getting an update through gifts from throughout the state. The renovation fund was launched with a $1.5 million gift fromPat and Jim Coggin, and the Junior League of Jackson is donating $500,000. Melissa and Phil Hanberry made a matching donation of $100,000 from the Giving Grace Fund in memory of their daughter, Maggie. Friends of Children’s Hospital is donating $250,000 for the center’s infusion suite.
Additional gifts have been received from the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation, Southern Mississippi Trading, Summit Plastics, the Campbell Bulldog Fund, RyanMan Foundation, the estate of Thomas McWilliams, a longtime supporter of Children’s of Mississippi and others.
Kenson Young of Quitman was the first patient to visit the center’s Wiser location.
“The laboratory staff made sure we went to the right location,” said his mom, Takesha Young. “This is nice.”
Virgil Lamkin, a UMMC construction project manager, said work will likely be underway in the center’s Batson location by May. “We think this will be a 365-day project once work begins,” he said.
The aquarium, a fixture of the center’s waiting area in the Batson Tower, didn’t make the move to Wiser, but the fish were all re-homed. When renovations are complete, one of the features of the waiting area will be a massive digital “aquarium.” When patients touch the screen, the water will ripple, and the digital fish will react.
The renovation has meant that Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders patients and families have had to travel to a different location for care, but Herrington said the temporary inconvenience will be worth it when the updated center is unveiled.
“The changes to the center will provide patients and families greater comfort and privacy with larger, state-of-the-art care spaces,” she said. “This renovation will be well worth any growing pains.”
To make a gift online in support of the renovation, visit umc.edu/CCRI-Give and designate your contribution to the Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Facility and Patient Care Fund. For more information or to learn about other ways to give, contact Suzanne Crell, major gifts officer, at (601) 815-8778 or email@example.com.