Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower Celebrates First Birthday

First opening its doors to patients on November 2, 2020, the Sanderson Tower includes a dozen advanced surgical suites, 32 pediatric intensive care rooms, 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, outpatient specialty clinics and a pediatric imaging center. Since that historic day, more than 7,225 surgeries have been performed in the tower, over 849 babies have grown healthy inside the neonatal intensive care unit and more than 908 ill and injured children have been cared for inside the pediatric intensive care unit.

“This has been the dream of so many people for so long,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the dean of the School of Medicine. “It’s such a special place. Already in just one year, we’ve taken care of thousands of patients here. For me, the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower is everything I imagined and everything I dreamed. It is just fantastic, and it is possible because of Joe and Kathy Sanderson and their family and all the people who contributed and worked so hard to make this a reality.”

Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson is the state’s sole hospital provider dedicated exclusively to adolescent care. In a state with a high rural population and limited access to health care providers during the midst of a global pandemic, it is more important than ever for the citizens of Mississippi to have access to a facility that is equipped with modern technology, as well as the brightest and most caring providers in the country.

“Children’s of Mississippi is the caregiver for children in the entire state of Mississippi,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames chair and professor of pediatrics. “While this building is in Jackson, children from around the state receive care here. This hospital is really a beacon, a place where children can come that is unlike any other hospital in this country and rivals any hospital in this country. It is a phenomenal hospital and one that we can be very proud of.”

The addition of the $180 million Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower to the hospital was a much-needed expansion in order to provide the most advanced facilities for the care and comfort of staff, patients and families. Joe and Kathy Sanderson are passionate about giving back to their community and to the children of Mississippi, and are proud that the hospital brings care closer to the children in the state.

“I think about a child and a family coming to this hospital, and when they come, it’s under dire, serious circumstances,” said Joe F. Sanderson Jr., chair of the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi. “They’ve been referred to this hospital because a local pediatrician or physician can’t deal with what that child has, whether it’s a heart condition, cancer or something else. I know those parents are suffering from fear. And then a doctor sees them, and the doctor gives them hope.”

Together, Joe and Kathy Sanderson spearheaded the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, which is a philanthropic initiative with a goal of funding the expansion of Children’s of Mississippi. The campaign’s goal is to raise $100 million, and the Sandersons kickstarted the effort with a personal donation of $10 million. Funds raised from the Sanderson Farms Championship, an annual PGA TOUR event, go towards the $100 million goal. Prior to the start of the 2021 tournament, more than $88 million had already been raised towards the goal.

To kick off the tower’s first birthday celebration, former patients were invited to attend the party in celebration of their health progress. Thanks to the addition of the Sanderson Tower and the critical space it provides, more families are able to stay together during the span of their child’s treatment. “It is amazing the difference in the Sanderson Tower,” said NICU nurse educator, Becky Harrison. “We have so many families who now have the opportunity to stay with their children. They never had that before. Now, the parents are able to get so much more involved.”

During its first year of operation, the Sanderson Tower has provided countless children across the state with premium health care, and that care has led to improved health outcomes for those children. “This past year has been one of growth and advancements in our care,” said Guy Giesecke, chief executive officer for Children’s of Mississippi. “In large part, that’s due to the new tower. From providing services in our outreach clinics to partnering with other hospitals and extending our specialty care to patients around the state, Children’s of Mississippi is providing more access to care. Our future’s brighter than it’s ever been, and we have Joe and Kathy Sanderson and all our donors to thank for that.”

Portions of this article are adapted from articles published on the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s website.