The Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children's of Mississippi is shown at sunrise on its opening day.
After hand-sanitizing, Guy Giesecke, Children's of Mississippi CEO, and Jovi McCloud of Morton, the first patient to enter the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children's of Mississippi, share a high-five as Jovi's mother, Amy McCloud, watches with approval.
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Patient care begins today in Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower

Published on Monday, November 2, 2020

By: Annie Oeth,

The wish has come true, and a new day in pediatric care in Mississippi has dawned.

With the opening of the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi this morning, a world-class children’s hospital will match the skills of University of Mississippi Medical Center professionals. The result is bringing the best pediatric care close to home for Mississippi families. 

Micah Ware of Coffeeville, a Children's of Mississippi patient, is the first patient in the Pediatric Imaging Center in the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower. The MRI machine features a three-dimensional pirate ship wrap.

“We are so excited about today’s opening of the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “The Sanderson Tower will be vitally important to pediatric care not only for patients but in research and in the education of the next generation of pediatric experts.”

This morning, clinical, surgical and imaging areas of the seven-story children’s hospital expansion opened. On Tuesday, the floor of private pediatric intensive care unit rooms open, with two floors of private neonatal intensive care unit rooms going into service Wednesday. On those days, critical care patients now at the PICU in the Batson Tower and in the NICU at Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants will be moved to the Sanderson Tower as their conditions permit.

“We now have a children’s hospital that is second to none and a facility that will be a place of hope and healing for our patients and their families,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames Chair, professor and chair of Pediatrics. “This week, we are carefully moving our critical care patients into this advanced facility and are beginning to treat outpatients in a clinic that is modern, accommodating and designed for collaboration among experts.”

Mallory Ellis of Madison, a Children's of Mississippi patient, waits with her father, Victor Ellis, during registration at the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower.

The Sanderson Tower, named for Sanderson Farms CEO and board chair Joe Sanderson Jr. and his wife, Kathy, joins the Blair E. Batson Tower, named for UMMC’s first Pediatrics chair, in forming the state’s only children’s hospital.

The Sanderson Tower is a complement to the patient floors of Batson, adding clinical and advanced surgical space, a Pediatric Imaging Center and three floors of intensive care space for children who are critically ill or injured. The opening of the tower more than doubles the square footage devoted to pediatric care at UMMC.

The Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at Children's of Mississippi is shown at sunrise on its opening day.
The Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower at sunrise on its opening day.

“The opening of this new facility means that the highest level of care will be there for the children of our state and for children yet to be born,” Joe Sanderson said, via video, at the Oct. 13 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the tower.

Kathy Sanderson added, “It’s thrilling to think that patients and their families will soon be coming through the doorway to the hospital to receive the care they need. Joe and I could not be more excited about this facility and couldn’t be any prouder of the medical team that will be there to treat the children here.”

The Sandersons, in 2016, launched the Campaign for Children’s of Mississippi, the philanthropic drive to help fund the children’s hospital expansion, with a $10 million personal gift. So far, the campaign has raised more than 84 percent of its $100 million goal through gifts of all sizes from around the state.