One Great Day
With this job, there are many good days, there are a few bad days, and every once in a while there are great days.
Yesterday was a great day.
In case you haven’t heard, our governing Institutions of Higher Learning Board unanimously approved our plan to move forward with bond financing for our Children’s of Mississippi expansion project. This is not the last step in the process, but it is a giant step toward bringing out of the ground this project that has been anticipated by so many for so long.
Next month, we will return to the board for approval of our construction plan and a final green light on the financing (which by policy must be voted on twice by the board).
Most of you have heard about the Children’s expansion so I won’t go into all the details, but this $180 million effort – the largest single project in our history -- will modernize our neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, create a dedicated pediatric imaging center, consolidate most of our fragmented peds ambulatory services in new space, increase the number and size of our operating rooms, and create a modern entrance in a spacious new tower.
These improvements will put our facilities on par with children’s hospitals in neighboring states, which are significantly larger, more contemporary and just plain nicer than ours.
In my mind and my heart, this is the right project, at the right time, for the right reasons. And foremost among those reasons is that the children and families who need us in Mississippi deserve to have access to the same quality of facilities as our neighbors in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.
I don’t like to get too far ahead of myself, but I just can’t help but take a moment to thank a few people for helping to make this great day possible.
I’m grateful for the confidence the Trustees and Commissioner have placed in us to build these new facilities.
I so much appreciate my administrative team – and particularly Kevin Cook, Guy Giesecke, Jonathan Wilson, Patrick Casey, Angie Alexander and finance team members Bruce Fairbanks, Brad Sinclair, Emily Lewis and others – who helped craft a detailed, cohesive and compelling plan for presentation to the board.
Thanks to our wonderful Children’s Campaign Steering Committee, led by the ever-faithful Joe and Kathy Sanderson, and to our UMMC Development team, under the direction of Natalie Hutto. Our $100 million campaign is ahead of schedule and moving full-steam-ahead toward our goal. (Incidentially, I hope you will join me in supporting the Sanderson Farms Championship golf tournament next week at the Country Club of Jackson!) And of course, the Friends of Children's Hospital - led by Sidney Allen, Scott Overby, Sara Ray and Suzan Thames - have shared our vision and provided leadership and support from Day 1.
Thanks also to UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter and Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Larry Sparks, who at a crucial moment, generously offered to help facilitate bridge financing, if needed, to accommodate the time lag on multi-year pledges as construction nears completion.
And finally, I cannot possibly thank enough our Children’s faculty and staff who serve our young patients every day, leading with their hearts. And among them Dr. Mary Taylor, who stepped into the role as interim pediatrics chair and probably has gotten more than she bargained for. This has been a long journey with many ups and downs, but it has all come together in one great day.
There’s another great day just ahead. We’re thinking early December. Details to follow. And BTW, bring a shovel.
Are you ready?