Home » NEWS » Health » Friends of Children’s pledges $20 million toward $100 million goal
Friends of Children's Hospital board chair Sara Ray, left, is thanked by Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, for the nonprofit group's $20 million pledge to the Children's of Mississippi capital campaign.

Friends of Children’s pledges $20 million toward $100 million goal

By JACK WEATHERLY

A pledge totaling $10 million from Joe and Kathy Sanderson to the Friends of Children’s Hospital has been matched – times two.

The Sanderson Farms chairman and chief executive and his wife made their pledge to the Friends campaign in April and on Tuesday the organization doubled that, promising to raise $20 million during the next 10 years to go toward the $100 million Children’s of Mississippi capital campaign.

“Friends of Children’s Hospital is extremely proud of the $17 million we’ve raised since 1989 and the impact that it’s had on improving health care for Mississippi’s children,” said Sara Ray, board chairman of the group, said in a release. “We were among the first on board when the Medical Center needed support to build Batson Children’s Hospital in 1997 and have contributed annually ever since to enhance the patient and family experience.”

Children’s of Mississippi is the umbrella organization that includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all University of Mississippi Medical Center pediatric care, including clinics offering specialty care around the state.

The funds raised in the campaign will help the Medical Center expand and update its space dedicated for pediatric care, including an expanded and renovated neonatal intensive care unit, more rooms for the pediatric intensive care unit, more operating rooms and the creation of an imaging clinic especially for pediatric patients. A new pediatric clinic will make care for outpatients more convenient and comfortable for families.

Expansion of the Children’s Heart Center is also on the drawing board. Batson Children’s Hospital is the only hospital dedicated exclusively to the needs of children in Mississippi.

Ray said that “the increase in patients needing this care means we now have a critical need to expand this facility.”

Said Joe Sanderson: “We believe that the hospital is at maximum capacity and needs updated infrastructure in several vital areas. The hospital is beyond capacity in the neonatal intensive care unit and is badly in need of additional space. Children are transported long distances to the adult hospital for vital diagnostic imaging procedures, often requiring sedation. And further, there needs to be additional facilities for pediatric surgeries, particularly cardiac surgery.”

Said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine: “We cannot thank Friends of Children’s Hospital enough for all they’ve done for the health of Mississippi’s children.”

In 2009, the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics at Batson Children’s Hospital opened, thanks to a partnership between the nonprofit and Manning, former Ole Miss quarterback and now in that position with the New York Giants in the National Football League, which raised $3 million over five years through an annual gala event, An Evening with the Mannings Presented by BankPlus. Friends donated another $1.7 million to the expansion and renovation of the children’s emergency room.

The Sandersons’ commitment does not stop at the personal level.

Sanderson Farms, which is the third-largest processor of chickens in the nation, sponsors the annual PGA tournament at the Jackson Country Club. And the nonprofit arm of the tournament donated $1.1 million to the Children’s Heart Center at Batson Children’s Hospital last fall.

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