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  The Michigan Difference
$25 million Mott grant carries on donor's legacy

A $25 million grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation to the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers to help build a state-of-the-art building for children's and women's health services was announced April 8.

Representing a sizable portion of the project's philanthropy goal, the grant is the largest ever awarded by the C. S. Mott Foundation and adds momentum to the year-old effort to raise funds for the new hospital. The grant is part of U-M's $2.5 billion The Michigan Difference campaign, and was awarded by the Mott Foundation's Board of Trustees after a formal application by the U-M Health System (UMHS).

"We're exceptionally grateful for the Mott Foundation's leadership in helping us better serve the children of Michigan, our country and the world," says Dr. Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of UMHS. "It's a wonderful reaffirmation of the role that the Mott Foundation has played in the advancement of children's health throughout the years. We hope it will encourage many others to donate toward our goal."

Forty years ago, Michigan auto pioneer and philanthropist Charles Stewart Mott gave the University $6.5 million to build its first children's hospital. Ever since, Mott Hospital has built a reputation as one of the nation's finest medical facilities for children, pregnant women and newborns.

The grant by the Mott Foundation, based in Flint, Mich., will carry Mott's legacy and his name forward into the 21st century. UMHS leaders hope to seek permission from the Board of Regents this spring to proceed with the building project.

"We consider this grant to be an important legacy to honor Mr. Mott and his strong, lifelong interest in the well-being of children," says William S. White, president and CEO of the Mott Foundation. "This is unusual for us because we don't normally support 'bricks and mortar' projects outside Flint. But we are extremely pleased to be part of such a bold step to ensure that children and families in Michigan and the United States have access to such an excellent facility and a superior staff."

UMHS has raised $9.6 million toward the new hospital, including more than $500,000 through the sale of blue rubber wristbands. Local schools and youth groups, as well as large companies and community organizations, all have contributed to the campaign, led by Regent David Brandon and his wife, Jan, and head football coach Lloyd Carr and his wife, Laurie.

The campaign for a new hospital has special meaning for Kelch, who was a student at the Medical School when the Mott Foundation made two grants totaling $6.5 million in 1964 and 1965, and a resident in pediatrics when Mott Hospital opened in 1969. He remembers the day when young patients were wheeled from their ward in the old University Hospital into the new facility.

"It was so exciting to have our own building, the first since the University founded its first children's ward in 1921," Kelch says. At the hospital's dedication in October 1969, officials unveiled a plaque containing one of C.S. Mott's favorite quotations:

"We approach all problems of children with affection. Theirs is the province of joy and good humor. They are the most wholesome part of the race, for they are the freshest from the hands of God."

The plaque still graces the entrance of Mott Hospital that faces the medical center courtyard.

In Fiscal Year 2004, 11,519 children were admitted to or born at the facility. In addition, there were 350,000 outpatient visits by children and infants to U-M clinics in 2004, compared with 25,000 in the late 1960s.

"We're using every inch of space that we can, and serving more patients than ever from every county of Michigan and many other states and countries," says Patricia Warner, associate hospital director for children's and women's services. "But we need a new facility that we can design from the ground up to fit today's medicine and tomorrow's innovations."

The proposed facility will provide a new and larger home for inpatient and outpatient services provided at the current Mott Hospital, the Birth Center and the Holden Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. It will be designed with room and flexibility to adapt to changing medical technologies, and will provide more comfortable and attractive facilities for patients and families.

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