Dear Medical College of Georgia Friends,

Children and MCG are synonymous with the future
Our children tend to be smarter than us, and we hope that they will accomplish what we should have and maybe things we never even thought about. MCG, as Georgia’s public medical school, helps shore up a physically and economically healthier state that can continue to grow and to accomplish unprecedented things as one of the top 10 states in population, population growth and much more. Our Children’s Hospital of Georgia and Department of Pediatrics are where MCG and children come together to make everyone’s future possibilities come true. 

About $4 million raised for the children’s hospital over the last year
Just this past weekend President Keel’s annual Gala benefitted the children’s hospital and the just over 400 generous people who attended gave their time and support to help bring to $4 million the total raised for our children’ hospital over the past year. We thank both President Keel and those donors for choosing children. It was a great opportunity as well to share some big news about the future.

New children’s hospital tower would enable major expansion of service
We are in the early phases of the programmatic design of a new tower for our children’s hospital. As our pediatric chair Dr. Valera Hudson, so aptly put it, our 154-bed facility that opened in 1998 is “busting at the seams.” “Transformational” is what she calls emerging plans for the new tower that include a larger 55-bed neonatal intensive care unit as well as our first-ever pediatric cardiac critical care unit and pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. Need is driving both what we want to expand and add for children. Many of us remember when we opened the hospital, which seemed huge, and how before that it operated as a hospital-within-a-hospital primarily on the eighth floor of the adult hospital. The new structure will stretch out into the circular driveway currently at the hospital’s front door and the new front door will be on Harper Street. If all goes well, we hope to be using that new front door in three years.

Tower will enable a larger NICU with individual patient rooms for our smallest patients
Right now we have a total of 45 NICU beds located in the critical care center sandwiched in between the adult and children’s hospitals. We have great caregivers and a great unit where the smallest and sickest babies you can imagine get the care they need. Emerging trends in the environment of care for these sickest newborns in areas like infection control, important family support and patient privacy, today mean providing individual rooms for babies, which the current NICU’s footprint just cannot accommodate. We also need more beds for this in-demand service.

Plans call for our first pediatric cardiac intensive care unit and bone marrow transplant unit
We’ve talked recently and you’ve heard elsewhere about our significant impact in the treatment of children with cancer, including the recent great gift by the family-driven Press On Fund to support this care.  Part of what we want to do now is to also have a pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. In fact, a portion of the recent Press On Fund gift will support that initiative. Dr. Hudson and others are working with Dr. Jorge Cortes, director of the Georgia Cancer Center, to recruit a chief of pediatric hematology/oncology who will bring bone marrow expertise here and get this important treatment here. Our pediatric heart program, under the leadership of Dr. Anastasios Polimenakos, chief of pediatric and congenital cardiothoracic surgery, and Dr. Kenneth Murdison, chief of pediatric cardiology, is thriving like the patients we treat. So the new tower will also include our first pediatric cardiac critical care unit. While these children currently get great care in our PICU, a dedicated unit will enable an even more focused effort on behalf of this growing population of young patients and have the domino effect of freeing up space in the PICU for a variety of other critical care needs of children.

Growth of children’s hospital enables growth of MCG
What we are talking about here is one of the classic win-wins for children, for Georgia, for MCG and AU Health, for the future of us all. Since she was named chair last summer, Dr. Hudson has already recruited about 20 faculty members, most of them new positions rather than filling vacancies, in areas like nephrology, endocrinology, cardiology and critical care, and she is working on about 10 more. Like everything we do here there is a multiplier effect, with more faculty and a bigger hospital enabling expanded medical and graduate medical education and research as well as more great care for children. I can’t help but add a reminder here that for these great plans to become reality requires the continued generosity of Augustans and Georgians who care about children and their future. I believe that you do care and you will help. Thank you for what you already have done. 

Dr. Larry Layman receives American Society for Reproductive Medicine Distinguished Researcher Award
The great news for a healthier future continues. Dr. Larry Layman, chief of the Section of Reproductive Endocrinology, Infertility and Genetics, who co-directs our MD/PhD program, is the 2019 recipient of The American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s Distinguished Researcher Award. Dr. Layman, a prolific physician-scientist pursuing complex problems like delayed puberty and other causes of infertility, was selected for decades of clinical and basic science research to advance the understanding of genes important to reproductive development, sexual differentiation, puberty and the function of other organs that has improved the treatment of patients. Dr. Layman joined the MCG faculty in 1988, after finishing his research fellowship here in reproductive endocrinology and genetics. He is the society’s liaison to the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology’s Committee on Genetics, and a member of its Research Task Force and Research Steering Committee and served on its board in 2017-18. His research funding includes a National Institutes of Health grant exploring the genetic causes of missing or underdeveloped vaginas. Dr. Layman was elected a member of the prestigious international Association of American Physicians earlier this year. We thank him for his significant contributions to his field, to medical education and to MCG.   

Body Donor Memorial Service, 1 p.m. today, Lee Auditorium
Finally today, I hope you join me in celebrating something for which there truly is no substitute: our body donors. If you could spend even a few moments in our anatomy labs with our first-year students and amazing anatomy educators, I know you would feel the same. A small group gathers around a cadaver with fascination and great respect as that body, graciously donated, shares with them lessons that not even the finest textbook or simulation center can. Our body donors come to us from all walks of life to help medical students learn their profession and find their future. Today we join our colleagues in Dentistry, Allied Health, Graduate Studies and Nursing in remembering our donors and their families. What a priceless gift both have given.


Upcoming Events

Nov. 1 – Body Donor Memorial Service, 1 p.m., Lee Auditorium.

Nov. 4 – Medical Scholars Research Day, Noon to 3 p.m., Harrison Commons. Keynote address:Academic Medicine: Shaping the Future, by Dr. Lisa L. Willett, program director for the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine.

Jan. 9 – State of the College, noon, Lee Auditorium.

Jan. 16 – Alumni Association Savannah/Brunswick Regional Reception, 6 p.m., location TBD.

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