Giving Hope

Published on June 28th, 2012 by Diana Duren.

A Community Hospital

Building for the future
Mark and Martha Ezell, of the Ezell Foundation, with Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. Photo by Susan Urmy.

The expansion at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt will have a lasting impact on the Middle Tennessee community. And the support from that community will have a lasting impact on the hospital. More than 335 donors, companies, foundations and organizations provided $13 million to the expansion project.

“This community in Nashville is as good as it gets,” says Richard W. “Rick” Dreiling, chairman and CEO of Dollar General and also chair of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Board.

“The people are genuine, and they live good, solid lives. The hospital is an outgrowth of that, and we’re very excited to be a part of its future.

”Dollar General Corporation is giving more than $1 million to benefit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, part of Children’s Hospital’s 33-bed, 30,000-square-foot addition.

“Every time you see a child who is struggling from premature birth or a disability, it reinforces this belief that every child should have the same start in life,” he says. “All children deserve to be healthy and get an education.”

For Martha Ezell, a nurse educator and a board member of Children’s Hospital, her support springs from personal experience. Her family’s long relationship with Monroe Carell Jr. sparked their interest in the hospital. The personalized care they received after their teenage son had a seizure cemented the bond.

“We are so very fortunate to have a resource like Children’s Hospital right here in our community,” Ezell says. “We are one of the many families in this area who have a Vanderbilt story. We are blessed to be able to support the hospital.”

The family made a gift to name a patient room on the Pediatric Critical Care Unit to honor pediatric cardiologist Vernat Exil, M.D.

The impact of gifts from community supporters will be felt for decades to come, says Susie Stalcup, vice chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations at Vanderbilt.

“Vanderbilt made a bold commitment to children’s health when it began this expansion project during the economic recession, and our supporters made that bold commitment together with us,” she says. “The opportunity to expand our capacity to care for patients and families will be transformative. By caring for the children who need us the most, we are creating a brighter future for all of us.” – by Jan Read


Dancing to save lives

Photo by Daniel Dubois

More than 500 students participated in the 2012 Dance Marathon in February, raising $113,678 to support children and families at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Dance Marathon is both the largest philanthropic and the largest student organization on campus and is part of the Children’s Miracle Network. The fundraising focus for this year’s 13-hour marathon was pediatric heart disease. Over the years, the Vanderbilt event has raised more than $1 million to benefit Children’s Hospital.

Heartfelt Thanks

Portis and Cindy Tanner with their children Edie, 3, and Beck, 5. Edie was born with a congenital heart defect and was treated at Vanderbilt. Thankful for the care Edie received, the family donated $100,000 to impact pediatric heart disease.

Portis Tanner watches his daughter, Edie, eat a bowl of cereal at their home in Union City, Tenn., before he leaves for work. He is reminded of the long road and the many people who have made this seemingly simple act possible. “She likes Special K with the freeze-dried strawberries in it,” he says. “That’s not exactly a kid’s cereal, but if she likes it, hey, that’s fine with me.”

The fact that the 3-year-old is sitting at the table eating breakfast is a bit of a miracle. Edie was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome before she was born. The family, who lived in Jackson, Tenn., was referred to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt through regional partner Jackson-Madison County Hospital.

“We got in to see Dr. (Ann) Kavanaugh, who was just an absolute godsend,” Tanner said. “She said, ‘This is what it is, this is what’s going on. We’re going to have this baby here.’” Edie arrived May 12, 2009. Three surgeries and many nerve-racking moments followed.

As the treatments helped Edie recover and grow stronger, the Tanners built strong, lasting relationships with the Children’s Hospital doctors, nurses and staff who had become like family.

That relationship inspired a $100,000 gift from the Tanners (including Edie’s grandparents, former U.S. Rep. John Tanner and his wife, Betty Ann) to the Children’s Building Fund and the Childhood Heart Disease Research Fund in the Department of Pediatrics. Their gift advances the research of scientists and clinicians who are focused on improving treatments and interventions for children like Edie with congenital heart problems.

“We were interested in helping with the expansion and, of course, with heart research. That’s why we decided to go 50-50 as opposed to throwing 100 percent at one thing,” Tanner added.

He hopes their gift will inspire others to give as well. “The more donations Vanderbilt receives for research, the better the research.” – by Nelson Bryan