Celebration marks new era in children's and women's care
When the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital first opened in 1969, Dr. Robert Kelch was in the last year of his general pediatrics residency. The leader of the U-M Health System (UMHS) recalls looking out a 10th-floor window of University Hospital and seeing the building going up "brick by brick."
"I have greater affection for this place than just about anywhere, and as a Detroit native, a father and a grandfather, I know how much building a new state-of-the-art children's hospital and women's hospital facility means to our community, this state and the world beyond Michigan," Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs and chief executive officer of UMHS, told an audience gathered for a ceremony to mark the next phase of the hospital's history.
UMHS broke ground Oct. 6 for the 1.1-million-square-foot, $523 million C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Women's Hospital facility. Fitting for many of the people the facility will serve, the event featured child-friendly activities, including kite performances by Aerial Experience Productions and the Windjammers Stunt Kite Team from southeastern Michigan; a special art project funded by a $6,000 gift from U-M swim team member Amanda Johnson and her siblings; and plenty of food for all. Even the celebratory dirt-churning seemed to be geared to the young, with backhoes in addition to the traditional gold shovels.
Regent David Brandon and Laurie Carr, wife of Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr, were official drivers of the heavy equipment. Brandon and his wife, Jan, along with the Carrs, co-chair the children's and women's fund-raising campaign.
Brandon, who has served as a regent for eight years, has a personal interest in the project. Twenty-six years ago his twin sons were born with a rare illness requiring them to be transferred to Mott, where, he said, they went from critically ill premature babies to healthy infants.
"Their story is only one of the thousands of stories produced by the 'miracle workers' here at Mott Hospital," Brandon said. "And we are simply one example of the grateful parents and patients who have asked for and received the most important gift of allthe gift of life.
"Mott Children's Hospital was here to save the life of my sons in 1980and I am so happy it will be here for sons and daughters in needfor generations to come!"
Specialty services not offered anywhere else in Michigan for newborns, children and pregnant women will be housed in a nine-story clinic tower and a 12-story inpatient tower.
"There is no more profound vocation at the University of Michigan than that of improving the health of children and women," President Mary Sue Coleman said.
"But when we step back and look beyond the hospital beds and the clinics, what we really do at Mott is give parents their sons and daughters. We give them the first day of kindergarten, and high school graduation, and a walk down the wedding aisle. And that is why today is so wonderful.
"We applaud all the donors who have made today possible," Coleman said. "Some people have written very large checks. Others have sold candy bars and held garage sales and car washes. You are all champions for the health of children and women, and you have helped to make the Michigan Difference for countless families throughout Michigan and beyond."
UMHS has raised nearly $50 million of its $75 million goal for the project, including a $25 million grant from the Flint-based C.S. Mott Foundation, whose President and CEO William White also was present for the celebration. Other gifts include $7 million from Ernest and Kelly Sorini to create the Sorini Family Children's Emergency Medicine Center, dedicated to pediatric care and hazardous materials-capable; a $4 million grant from the Detroit-based Carls Foundation; $2 million from the Brandons, which will support the Nick and Chris Brandon Newborn Intensive Care Unit, named for their twins; and $2 million from Jane Von Voigtlander.
In addition to the donors and those from the development staff who worked with them, Patricia Warner, associate director and chief administrative officer of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, also thanked the Children's & Women's steering and operational planning committees, regents, executive officers, health system leaders and UMHS employees, including some 450 faculty and staff she said were involved in every phase of the process.
"And, perhaps most of all, I want to thank our patients and their families who rely upon us every day for excellent care," Warner said. "So many of our patients tell us that we give them hope. But without them, we would not be here today. They give us purpose."
Other special guests included Regent Chair Olivia Maynard and Ypsilanti resident Angelique McClellan, whose son underwent successful fetal surgery at Mott in May.