At Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt our work extends beyond patient exam rooms. We are also searching for discoveries to offer better treatments, provide quality care and train the next generation of providers. The profiles here represent only a sampling of the tireless work performed daily to make Children’s Hospital a place of unwavering hope. In each issue, we also include a profile to highlight our longstanding partnership with our community pediatricians who help ensure all children receive the best care each and every day.
Marlee Crankshaw, R.N., DNP, CNML, has experienced the joys of caring for babies for almost 35 years working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
In 1980, the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom of four faced a big decision that led to a career in nursing.
“My husband’s diabetes was worsening and the doctors were discussing dialysis options. I was fearful as he became unable to work,” she said. “When I graduated high school, I wanted to get married and have children. I never went to college. I had dreamed of becoming a nurse and taking care of babies. So, I gathered up my courage and started nursing school at age 30, with four children and a sick husband.”
That dream was inspired years before by a personal experience. After giving birth to her fourth child, Katie, Crankshaw learned her baby had to spend time in a NICU. Every time her monitor beeped, Crankshaw panicked thinking Katie was in distress and would run to get a nurse.
“I vowed to be a pediatric nurse so moms won’t be afraid,” Crankshaw said. “I wanted to be that person who keeps them calm, because I knew exactly how it felt to be in such a scary situation.”
Attending night classes at Tennessee State University as a non-traditional student, she obtained her associate’s degree in nursing in two years, and began working at a small, local pediatric unit.
The sickest patients were sent to what was then called Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, and Crankshaw realized that’s exactly where she wanted to be, taking care of the babies who needed continuous care.
On Oct. 31, 1983, Crankshaw began working at Children’s Hospital, then housed on the fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the main hospital.
“It was the dream of a lifetime to take care of these families and their babies,” Crankshaw said. “I could not get over how amazing this place was. Once I was hired, I never looked back.”
Crankshaw, director of Neonatal Services, has now worked in the NICU for over three decades and seen firsthand the growth of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
She’s also experienced medical advancements in the NICU, caring for babies born as early as 23 weeks gestation. The survival rate of premature babies has increased greatly.
“When a baby dies, it is devastating. We have to step back and look at the bigger picture and know that we have great outcomes, and focus on what we can do for every baby. A larger majority of our babies leave our hospital and have good outcomes,” she said. “Many of these families, I’ve become attached to and I still receive graduation announcements and birthday cards in the mail from them.”
In 2001, she earned her master’s degree in Health Systems Management from Vanderbilt School of Nursing, and went on to earn her Doctor of Nursing in 2010.
“I was very proud to be in the first DNP class for Vanderbilt. There were certainly times in school that I simply thought I could not go on—my husband’s health had continued to deteriorate through the years and I was pushing myself as hard as I knew how. I wanted my children and grandchildren to learn to never give up and your dreams can always come true if you work at them.”
When Crankshaw isn’t at work, she’s spending time with her four children—Stephanie, 44, Chris, 43, Jenny, 42, and Katie, 37. Her husband, Robert, affectionately known as “Shaw,” died in 2010.
She has 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren who call her “Mingy.” She enjoys hosting family dinners for them.
– by Tavia Smith
Dai Chung, M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatric Surgery, literally grew up in a hospital—long before he became a surgeon or studied to be one. Nurses helped raise him and his two younger brothers, often taking them to the park while his parents worked.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, his family lived on the upper floors of their family-owned hospital. His mother, an obstetrician-gynecologist, ran her practice on the first floor, while his paternal grandfather, a pediatrician, worked on the second floor of the hospital. Medicine was in his blood.
“I tried to hide that my grandfather was a pediatrician, especially around vaccination time. I didn’t want the kids in the neighborhood to know my grandfather was the one who gave them the shots,” Chung joked. “I remember a lot of sick kids coming in. But really, medicine always seemed natural to me.”
His family immigrated to Dallas, Texas, in the 1970s, when he was a teenager, for his father’s work in international trade relations between South Korean companies, like Samsung, and the United States.
Chung went to University of Texas at Austin where he received his bachelor’s degree in Biology before attending University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston to earn his medical degree.
A summer research project under his mentor Courtney Townsend Jr., M.D., whom he still communicates with, motivated him to be an adult general surgeon with a focus in surgical oncology.
But simultaneous research on pediatric burns during his residency changed his career focus. His interest in pediatrics was piqued when he spent a fellowship caring for children with burn injuries at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston. That’s also where he would meet his wife, Kimberleye.
“There is something special about helping kids. It was such a rewarding experience. I have fond memories of my time at Shriners. Being able to make a little difference for those innocent kids who happened to suffer devastating burn injuries was truly special,” said Chung, Janie Robinson & John Moore Lee Professor of Pediatric Surgery.
A rotation in pediatric general surgery hooked him further into pursuing a career in pediatric surgery as he loved the broad scope and range of conditions treated by pediatrics surgeons. Chung would do a fellowship in pediatric surgery at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, then took a position as medical director for the pediatric burn unit at Children’s Hospital of Alabama at Birmingham.
He returned to UTMB to lead a section of pediatric surgery including developing a robust research program, where he remained until taking an opportunity at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
He developed a passion for research in neuroblastoma, a cancer that originates in the nerve tissue cells and primarily affects infants and young children. He studies the role of gastrin-releasing peptides in neuroblastoma in hopes of developing targeted therapies.
Chung arrived at Vanderbilt in 2009, following the devastation of Hurricane Ike in Galveston, Texas. Coming to Vanderbilt allowed him to continue pursuing his passions.
“I wanted to have a leadership role and to help build a preeminent academic pediatric surgical program where not only as pediatric surgeons we provide the utmost, highest quality care, but where we also train the next generation of outstanding pediatric surgeons to be better than us. I also am passionate about trying to find a cure for neuroblastoma, and to discover how we can deliver better care and make an impact for these kids,” he said.
Chung holds many roles at Children’s Hospital, which include director of the Pediatric Trauma Program and program director of Pediatric Surgery Residency.
When not at work, Chung and Kimberleye spend time with their 13-year-old twin girls, Kaley and Camryn. He also golfs, a pastime he used to enjoy with his father.
– by Christina Echegaray
Kathie Krause, MSN, R.N., NNP-BC, NEA-BC, has fond memories as a child in the 1970s watching her aunt prepare for a nursing shift at a local hospital and leave the house donning all- white clothing—a nurse’s cap, dress, shoes and pantyhose.
“She was my inspiration,” said Krause of her aunt who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Boston University. “I decided I wanted to do that too.”
Growing up just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, Krause chose nearby Kent State University to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A tour of a neonatal intensive care unit began her love of caring for tiny infants fighting for their lives.
“I loved critical care—I like the excitement, the technology and the type of support you offer to families in a critical care unit. I really enjoyed the babies,” said Krause, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
After graduation in 1984, she moved to Nashville, where her parents had relocated, and began working as a neonatal intensive care nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, when the pediatric unit consisted of three floors inside the adult hospital.
After a short time at Vanderbilt, Krause became part of a groundbreaking team, one of eight people who would embark on establishing Vanderbilt’s first pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program. The ECMO machine, which has evolved in the three decades since Vanderbilt began using it for infants, provides temporary heart and lung support for patients experiencing severe pulmonary or cardiac failure.
Children’s Hospital has one of the most well-regarded programs in the world, led by John Pietsch, M.D., surgical director and founder of the ECMO program at Vanderbilt.
“To be in the Vanderbilt Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with Dr. (Mildred) Stahlman, who is such an icon in the field, and learning from her and the faculty and staff, I feel like it’s a story in my career not many people get a chance to tell. We were there on the cutting edge watching babies who literally had no hope and we could turn it around and save their lives,” she said.
“You don’t know that you’re part of something bigger when it’s happening, but you look back on it and say, ‘wow.’”
During her time at Vanderbilt, Krause earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in 1992.
Other career opportunities in nursing arose for Krause, pulling her away from Vanderbilt for a time to Alabama and other parts of Tennessee, before she would return back to where she “grew up” in neonatal care to fill the position as CNO of Children’s Hospital in 2015.
In her time away, Krause fell into administrative roles, which she initially never intended to pursue due to a passion for direct care of the babies and families.
“What I enjoy about leadership is not just making a difference for one particular patient but for a patient population and the staff who care for them. To be able to work with a group of nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, whomever, to make a better environment for patients and families—that’s really what I enjoy. I take care of people who take care of people,” she said.
When not at work, Krause can be found traveling the world. To name a few places, she’s been to Morocco, Portugal, Italy and Scotland. In December 2016, she took a two-week riverboat cruise along the Rhine River through Europe, visiting Christmas markets. Next year, she is planning a train tour across Canada.
– by Christina Echegaray
William R. Moore, M.D., was doing his residency at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 1985, working the obstetrics rotation when his heart revealed a passion for pediatrics.
After each birth, Moore found himself gravitating to the newborn’s bassinet.
“I really, really loved the obstetrics program,” Moore said. “I fell in love with following women through their pregnancy. Every time a baby was born I’d be standing at the bassinet with the baby.”
He was pulled to the side by his superior after a birth.
“He said, ‘You just need to be a pediatrician,’” Moore said, with a smile. “And he was right.”
For more than three decades, Moore has learned a lot about life, joy and love from the thousands of children he has cared for as a community physician in Clarksville, Tennessee.
“Children are so fluid. You have such a chance to help them for the good. They are impressionable and I love interacting with them and their parents,” Moore said.
Although Moore has one son, he treats all his patients like his own children.
“When people ask me how many children I have, I always answer between 2,000 and 3,000,” Moore said. “Children are fun to talk to and watching them grow up, seeing them change is like watching your own child.”
Moore, a Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) alumnus, is a pediatrician at Premier Medical Group, and enjoys a close partnership with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
“I think it’s an excellent relationship I have with Vanderbilt as a community physician. When I need help, I call, and they are always very supportive,” Moore said. “I treat a lot of normal, healthy children, but when we have the few who need specialty treatment, it’s reassuring to know that when I refer them, they will get the best care at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital.”
Moore helped form Premier Medical Group 22 years ago. But his path to caring for children was not cut and dried.
“I was doing electrical engineer training at University of Memphis. I was working in biomedical engineering. I did some research and applied to medical school at Vanderbilt University,” he said.
He was shocked and excited when he was admitted into VUSM in 1978.
“It was a God thing,” Moore said. “I was accepted, but not sure how I would afford it. Then I learned I earned a full scholarship. I was so humbled.”
As a medical student, Moore explored patient care, working as a suture tech at John Gaston Hospital’s emergency room in Memphis.
“I’m an empathetic person. It was hard seeing gunshot wounds and seeing people die,” Moore said. “I never dealt well with seeing adults die.”
It was watching the birth of new life that led him to become a pediatrician.
“I love asking children questions and listening to their funny answers. It’s amazing to talk to the parents and help (those parents) make good choices—because the children are our future and we must invest in our future.”
During Moore’s residency at Vanderbilt from 1982-1985, he met his future wife, Mary “Genie,” a Vanderbilt researcher. Ironically they were coordinating the care of a pediatric patient. Married for 33 years, they travel the world, practice photography and hike. They have one child, Evan Moore.
– by Tavia Smith