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Sanderson Farms Championship announces $1.1M gift to Children's Heart Center

SandersonFarmsChampionship-logo_rgbThe philanthropic arm of the PGA Tour’s Sanderson Farms Championship Tuesday presented $1.1 million to the five-year-old Children’s Heart Center at Batson Children’s Hospital.

The contribution from the PGA Tour event’s host sponsor, the nonprofit Century Club Charities, will help the space-squeezed Children’s Heart Center reach its expansion goals of 20 to 24 additional beds, new operating rooms, and an all-new specialized imaging center, Center officials said in announcing the Century Club gift.

The Children’s Heart Center situated on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center provides complex treatment to more than 1,000 infants and children each year but is running out of space for such procedures. The Center says it is further challenged by a shortage of staff, patient beds and imaging equipment needed to diagnose and treat congenital heart defects, which affect nearly one out of every 100 babies.

“We’re at a very critical point in the development of the Heart Center,” said Dr. Jorge Salazar, chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center. Dr. Mary Taylor, chief of the divisions of pediatric critical care and pediatric cardiology, also is co-director.

The check for $1,102,700 presented by Century Club Charities Tuesday comes from a portion of funds generated by the golf tournament held Nov. 3-9 at the Country Club of Jackson.

“Our goal was to get to a million dollars, and we were blessed with a great response from the sponsors and players, and good weather,” said Johnny Lang, president of Century Club Charities.

Profits from PGA Tour events nationwide raise money for the chosen charity of tournament hosts. Sanderson Farms agreed in 2013 to take over title sponsorship of the local tournament. Century Club Charities, whose mission is to promote the game of golf for charitable benefit, last year presented a total $500,000 in tournament proceeds to Friends for growth of the Children’s Heart Center.

“We are pleased to have a part in the evolution of the Children’s Heart Center, and are excited to see what the future holds for this hospital,” said Joe Sanderson, CEO and chairman of the board of Sanderson Farms. “The primary reason this tournament exists is to raise money for Friends of Children’s Hospital, who in turn helps make Mississippi’s only children’s hospital a health-care destination.”

Currently, the Children’s Heart Center is virtual — not its own brick and mortar — but instead space allocated for heart services at Batson. The heart team has rapidly outgrown that space, and since the center’s creation in 2010, has operated on about 2,000 patients. Other procedures, including heart catheterizations and echocardiograms, bring the number treated to more than 5,000 babies and children.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the infrastructure for sustainability. We need adequate rooms, ICU beds, operating rooms, and a pediatric imaging center to support the commitment we’ve made,” Salazar said.

Batson and Children’s Heart Center supporters envision a new building to be constructed in the space adjacent to the current children’s hospital building. Among other things, it would house a new lobby and clinical space for the Children’s Heart Center, including surgical suites, a cardiac intensive care unit and an imaging center.  A construction timeline and costs are still in the planning stages.

“Part of the excitement about our affiliation with Friends of Children’s Hospital is that (the Championship) is the largest and only professional sporting event in the state, and we have the only children’s hospital in the state,” Lang said. “We are thrilled with this affiliation.”

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