Published on Thursday, November 30, 2017
Media Contact: Annie Oeth
Pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center will be led into the future by one of its own.
Dr. Mary Taylor, a School of Medicine alumna and professor of pediatrics, was named chair of the Department of Pediatrics, effective tomorrow. She is the first woman and first UMMC graduate to hold the post.
She will be the fourth chair of Pediatrics in the 62-year history of the Medical Center, following founding chair Dr. Blair E. Batson, who served from 1955 to 1989, Dr. Owen “Bev” Evans, 1989-2011, and Dr. Rick Barr, who became chair in 2011. Taylor has served as interim chair of Pediatrics since the departure of Barr Sept. 30.
“Dr. Taylor has been a strong leader at UMMC for the past six years, serving as chief of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care and co-director of the Children’s Heart Center at Batson Children’s Hospital,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “Her expertise in critical care will be vital as we build a new children’s tower that will include state-of-the-art neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit space, additional surgical suites and pediatric imaging. Dr. Taylor’s experience as a physician and a leader makes her uniquely qualified to take pediatric care at UMMC to new heights.”
The announcement came days before leaders in government, medicine and philanthropy break ground to begin construction of a seven-story, 340,000-square-foot tower. The project is the focus of the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, an effort to raise $100 million to help fund the $180 million construction project. Launched in 2016, the Campaign has raised more than $60 million so far.
Taylor received her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University prior to earning her M.D. from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in 1991. Also holding a master of science in clinical investigation from Vanderbilt, Taylor completed residency training in pediatrics and fellowship training in cardiology and critical care at Vanderbilt and was a senior clinical fellow at the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit of Boston Children’s Hospital before helping create the pediatric cardiac critical care unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She was on faculty at Vanderbilt for a decade before moving back to Mississippi, her home state, and UMMC in 2011.
The Natchez native said she is honored to lead the department.
“We are at a pivotal point in the history of pediatrics at Children's of Mississippi with the groundbreaking of the Children's Hospital expansion project,” she said. “I am so honored to be named the next chair of Pediatrics at this special time. We have a tremendous opportunity to expand on a great foundation, to make even more advances in the care that we provide for the children of Mississippi.”
A classmate of Woodward during medical school, Taylor was inspired by Dr. Batson to specialize in pediatrics. Stepping into the leadership role first held by her mentor is meaningful, but so is the chance to build the future of Children’s of Mississippi care, she said.
“We have built a great team of physicians and staff who provide excellent care that rivals that of any hospital in the region,” Taylor said. “Our new facility will give us the resources we need to make that care the very best for our children. I am blessed to lead this wonderful team.”
Suzan B. Thames, founding president of Friends of Children’s Hospital, said she is pleased the endowed chair that bears her name will be held by Taylor.
“I have watched Dr. Taylor in action and have seen the expert care she has given and the leadership she has shown in pediatrics,” said Thames. “Her care and concern for UMMC and for the children of this state, combined with her experience and skills, make her an excellent choice.”
Sidney Allen, the current board chairman of Friends, said leadership in pediatrics will be vital during this time of expansion. “Dr. Taylor is devoted to this state and this hospital, and she will continue to make an incredible difference in the health of our children through her leadership.”
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