Help from Friends

Published on June 20th, 2017 by Diana Duren.

A generous $1 million gift from the Friends of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt will be shared by the Program for Children with Medically Complex Needs and the hospital’s pediatric cancer care program.

The Complex Care program, just three years old, is growing rapidly and showing dramatic results in reducing the hospital stays of children who are deemed medically complex—those with a severe chronic disease who don’t fit with an already established program within the hospital, like cystic fibrosis, diabetes or sickle cell disease.

To be enrolled in the program, children typically see at least three subspecialists and have been admitted to the hospital at least twice in the past year or once to intensive care.

The Friends organization, which began in the fall of 1972, includes about 3,000 members representing 1,700 households, who give their time and dollars to make a difference in the lives of children in Middle Tennessee and beyond. The organization supports the mission of Children’s Hospital through fundraising, community awareness and services to the patients and their families along with the faculty and staff of Children’s Hospital.

The Complex Care program, the only one in the state, provides ongoing continuous care to children with severe chronic disease. To care for the largest number of patients possible, the program is intended to supplement, rather than replace, the care provided by primary care physicians.

Other essential components of the Complex Care program include care between visits, critical to keeping children out of the hospital and emergency room, but not usually covered by insurance, and shared decision making with families.

The Friends’ gift will allow the program to hire another nurse practitioner and a case manager to assist with the program’s growing caseload.

“We’re here because of the good graces of Children’s Hospital and the generosity of the Friends organization,” said David Hall, M.D., professor of Clinical Pediatrics and director of the program. “We’re extremely grateful that the hospital and the Friends of Children’s Hospital support us. We simply wouldn’t be able to hire another nurse practitioner or case manager for the program if it weren’t for Friends.”

The program will be able to continue to grow without reducing services, Hall said.

“We wanted to make sure that our gift touched patients and their families directly,” said Tricia Ericson, president of Friends. “We saw this as an opportunity to make an impact on generations of patients and their families.”

—by Nancy Humphrey