Members of the Junior League of Jackson raised the funds to build what is now the Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Now they’re donating $500,000 toward its renovation. The center’s new interactive waiting space will be named in honor of the League’s commitment.
“The Junior League of Jackson is honored to be a part of advancing the family-centric care provided at the clinic,” said JLJ President Katie Lightsey Browning. “The renovation will provide hope and healing to so many Mississippi children and their families for years to come, and this directly aligns with the Junior League of Jackson’s mission.”
Opened in 1991 with a $2 million contribution by the Junior League of Jackson, the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders now needs updates to offer patients and families more privacy and comfort as well as space for additional examination rooms and pharmacy upgrades. Once again, the Junior League of Jackson is stepping in to assist.
The renovation fund started with a $1.5 million gift from Pat and Jim Coggin of Jackson. The updates to the center are expected to cost close to $3 million, and these improvements will mirror the connecting Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower.
“This project will bring much-needed updates to the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders that will make it a more comfortable space for our patients and their families,” said Dr. Anderson Collier, director of the center and chief of pediatric hematology-oncology at UMMC.
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.
The new interactive waiting space named in honor of the Junior League of Jackson will be relocated to improve the flow of patients and families through the clinic. Inpatients will be able to check in electronically or in-person, just like in the clinics inside the Sanderson Tower. The waiting area updates will also include interactive children’s activities, Collier said.
A larger, more efficient nurses’ station named in honor of the Selby and Richard McRae Foundation’s generous support of the project is included in the renovation. Research areas and additional workspace for hematologists and oncologists to improve collaboration are also included in the plans.
“Research is an essential component of what we do in the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders,” Collier said. “This provides patients who have cancer or sickle cell disease access to the most advanced research and treatment. The larger and improved space will also improve the flow of patients through the clinic, decreasing wait times.
“The increased space will also allow for more multi-disciplinary clinics to improve the patient experience for those patients who often need to see multiple providers on the same day,” Collier said. “Instead of the patients going to each of the providers, we want to bring the providers to the patients.”
The Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders includes one of the largest pediatric clinics for sickle cell disease in the country as well as care for other disorders including iron deficiency anemia, and disorders involving platelets, clotting or bleeding disorders.
Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair and professor of pediatrics, said the updates to the center will improve the patient experience for thousands of children and will add to the Junior League of Jackson’s legacy at Children’s of Mississippi.
“The Junior League of Jackson has been a long-standing supporter of our children’s hospital,” she said. “Their members have rocked our children, read to them, played with them, and they made this center possible. The Junior League is part of our family at Children’s of Mississippi.”
The Junior League supported the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi with a $1 million commitment to helping fund construction of the Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit West Wing is named for the Junior League of Jackson.
Suzan Thames, an early supporter of Children’s of Mississippi and a member of the Junior League of Jackson that served as a driving force to construct the Cancer Clinic in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, said it is gratifying to see the continued dedication of the Junior League of Jackson to the center.
“I am so grateful for the Junior League of Jackson’s commitment to pediatric health care in Mississippi,” she said. “This extraordinary group of women’s dedication to the Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders makes such a difference in the lives of children and families battling cancer, and I can’t think of a better cause to support.”
Ann Calhoon, a JLJ leader who was also devoted to helping build the center, remembers the hopefulness of the center’s groundbreaking and opening ceremonies.
“The Junior League’s steadfast support of children is just incredible,” she said. “I am proud I was a part of the initial project to build the Cancer Clinic in 1991, but I am even more proud that over the past 30 years, this dedicated group of ladies has remained committed to improving the lives and health of all Mississippi children. This work is so important for our state’s children and their families.”
By Annie Oeth/UMMC Public Affairs