Towering Achievement


Since 2015, Children’s of Mississippi has been in a state of growth so that Mississippi’s children can continue to grow and thrive. While this $180 million expansion was certainly no easy feat, hospital leaders did not have to face the challenge alone as two passionate benefactors stepped up to lead the fundraising efforts necessary to sponsor the expansion. Those two kind souls were none other than our own chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Joe F. Sanderson Jr., and his wife, Kathy.

Co-chairs of the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, Joe and Kathy have worked tirelessly for the cause for the past five years because of the significant impact it will have on Mississippi’s most vulnerable population, it’s children, and due to the life-altering care their own granddaughter, Sophie Creath, received at the hospital when she was only four years old. Suffering from a chronic case of hereditary pancreatitis, young Sophie received excellent care at Batson Children’s Hospital and now controls her condition with proper nutrition and medication. She is now a healthy and active college student at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, thanks to the doctors and staff at Children’s of Mississippi.

Although Sophie’s days at Children’s of Mississippi are now long behind her, her grandparents have far from forgotten the excellent care she received at the hospital and the positive impact it now has on her quality of life as a young adult. “After witnessing the competent, loving care of Dr. Paul Parker [pediatric gastroenterologist] and the team at Batson, we realized the importance of this wonderful hospital,” said Kathy Sanderson. “We were so impressed with the hospital and with the whole team because they were so genuinely caring.”

Easily the most ambitious campaign in Children’s of Mississippi history, the Sandersons were up for the challenge and ready to make an impact on health care for generations of Mississippi children to come. Taking very seriously their call to champion Mississippi’s children both today and for future generations, Joe and Kathy took it upon themselves to lead, by example, the very same culture of giving that they hoped to inspire in Mississippians all across the state.

Not only did they lead the largest fundraising campaign in the history of the hospital, they also donated the campaign’s first large gift of $10 million, a tenth of the overall campaign goal of $100 million. In addition to Joe and Kathy’s personal donation and the personal donation of president and chief operating officer, Lampkin Butts, and his wife, Susie, the Sanderson Farms Championship has raised more than $7.7 million since 2013 for Friends of Children’s Hospital, the fundraising arm of Batson Children’s Hospital.

“An extraordinary plan needed extraordinary leaders,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “Joe and Kathy Sanderson were the first people we thought of. We knew if anyone could help us reach this lofty goal, Joe and Kathy, with their track record of dedication to Mississippi, Children’s of Mississippi and UMMC, could.”

Children’s of Mississippi, part of UMMC, encompasses all of the pediatric services available at UMMC and at clinical sites throughout the state. At the heart of these services is Batson Children’s Hospital, the state’s only hospital devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of sick and injured children.

The ambitious campaign was conceptualized for one clear goal, a $180 million pediatric tower with seven stories, 340,000 square feet, 88 private neonatal intensive care rooms, 12 operating rooms, 32 pediatric intensive care rooms and an imaging center designed for children and a specialty clinic. This new pediatric tower allows for updated space and additional room, as well as more convenience and comfort for families of sick children.

Inside the tower is where 88 babies, each in a private neonatal intensive care room, get their start in life. It is where 12 operating rooms are used to save lives, where the most critically ill children in the state receive care and where MRI machines are fanciful and kid-friendly. Thanks to the new tower, pediatric subspecialists including neurologists, urologists and endocrinologists all call one outpatient
clinic home.

This new home, a home that provides hope for so many children and their families, is now known as none other than the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower, rightfully named after the two Mississippians who passionately led the charge for its inception for over half a decade now. After five years of fundraising and nearly three years of construction, Children’s of Mississippi ushered in a new era of pediatric care in the state of Mississippi with the snip of a ribbon and the toss of colorful confetti in the air.

While the ribbon-cutting ceremony had limited in-person attendance and was livestreamed on Facebook due to COVID-19, no pandemic could put a damper on the smiles peeking from behind attendees’ cheerful Children’s of Mississippi masks. The Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower was finally complete and has now opened its doors to children all across the state in need of its specialized care and attention.

“It’s thrilling to think that patients and their families are now coming through the doorway to the hospital to receive the care they need,” said Kathy Sanderson. “Joe and I could not be more excited about this facility and couldn’t be prouder of the medical team that is there to treat the children.”

The new Sanderson Tower complements the existing Blair E. Batson Tower that opened back in 1997 and was named after a pioneer in pediatric medicine, Dr. Blair E. Batson, who was UMMC’s first pediatrics chair. “Together, a tower named after our pediatrics’ founding father and a tower named for two of Mississippi’s most compassionate and generous residents provides world-class care to Mississippi’s children right here, close to home, in Mississippi’s only children’s hospital,” said Woodward.

“The opening of this new facility means that the highest level of care will be there for the children of our state and for children yet to be born,” said Joe Sanderson. “We have incredible doctors and nurses at Children’s of Mississippi that deliver world-class pediatric care and achieve outcomes that rival the best children’s hospitals in the county, and because of this expansion, we have a facility that matches
their skills.”



Building the Vision

In nearly three years, the vision for Children’s of Mississippi’s future expansion has evolved from a mere architectural concept to a best-in-class hospital tower. In that relatively short period of time, the site of the new seven-story pediatric tower adjacent to the existing Blair E. Batson Tower has transformed from a parking lot to a construction zone humming with equipment and, finally, to a state-of-the-art medical facility practicing its life-saving work for Mississippi’s children. During the construction phase, Joe Sanderson toured the tower in its early inception to observe the progress made. Now, this tower is where children and families all across Mississippi find hope for a better future.

“The level of care has been enhanced as the Sanderson Tower pairs excellent nurses and physicians with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment,” said Dr. William Moskowitz, professor and chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center. “The combination provides an excellent experience for children and their families while providing the highest level of comprehensive care.”