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Board members spur Children’s Hospital campaign

Feb. 26, 2015, 9:09 AM

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is growing to new heights on the shoulders of its board members, who are making key contributions to the campaign for a four-floor expansion, both in the giving of their time and resources.

Board members, including Bob Rolfe, Sarah Trahern and Joey Jacobs, are getting others excited about Vanderbilt’s mission.

The Growing to New Heights Campaign is a $30 million effort to expand the size and reach of Children’s Hospital to patients. The campaign is chaired by Kathryn Carell Brown, daughter of Monroe Carell Jr., and co-chaired by community leaders Kix Brooks, entertainer, radio host and entrepreneur; Rick Dreiling, chair and chief executive officer, Dollar General Corp.; Steven Hostetter, CEO, TriStar Energy LLC; Bob Rolfe, CEO, Medical Reimbursements of America Inc.; and Clarence Spalding, president, Spalding Entertainment.

As of press time, more than $27 million in gifts, pledges and verbal commitments has been received for the campaign to fund the new tower, which is expected to open in 2017.

Rolfe, Trahern and Jacobs talked about how they got involved with Vanderbilt, why they’re participating in the campaign and the importance of serving more children in Middle Tennessee and beyond.

Bob Rolfe

Rolfe, a board member since 2010, is leading the effort to get every Children’s Hospital board member to support the expansion campaign. Rolfe, CEO of Medical Reimbursements of America, based in Franklin, Tennessee, has led several companies, many of them in health care.

Bob Rolfe

His three children were born at Vanderbilt, and his role has only deepened over the years. He also received an executive MBA from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management in 1988. His wife, Kathy, is a past president of Friends of Children’s Hospital and served on a previous campaign for the hospital.

He said his interest in Vanderbilt grew after getting to know Jeanne Yeatman, MBA, EMT, director of Vanderbilt LifeFlight.

“Jeanne invited me to go spend a day shadowing her, and I just thought what a cool, cool career that she has developed. I loved her passion for Vanderbilt and for the flight program,” he said.

But Vanderbilt, at the time, lacked a helipad for Children’s Hospital. The Rolfes helped change that. “One thing led to another and Kathy and I provided seed money to help them with the heliport.”

Now on the board, Rolfe is passionate about the need to expand the hospital.

“There are points in time when the hospital will be over 100 percent occupied,” he said. “This makes so much sense to expand the capacity. The level of care for the most critically ill children just cannot be duplicated or replicated … there’s really nothing like it.

“Any time you can make a contribution that will have a small impact on the outcome of a child’s illness or injury, it’s just one of the most rewarding things that people can do,” he said.

Sarah Trahern

Trahern’s road to the Children’s Hospital Board came through Music Row, just around the corner from campus. Trahern, CEO for the Country Music Association (CMA), has more than 27 years of experience in network television, much of it in the business of country music.

Sarah Trahern

Her affinity for Vanderbilt would only deepen as she graduated with an executive MBA from the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management in 2004. She joined the Children’s Hospital Board in 2012 at the urging of a fellow officer at the Academy of Country Music, where she chaired the board at the time.

She quickly learned that there was something different about Children’s Hospital.

“The warm and welcoming atmosphere lets every patient and every family member know, as they walk through the door, that it’s about them,” she said. “It’s such a built-in collaborative environment that patients coming have the advantage of multiple folks working on their care as opposed to a standalone hospital that may have one specialist.”

Trahern also helps connect the music industry to Vanderbilt. The CMA has had a longstanding relationship with Vanderbilt, and Trahern uses her professional contacts to help Children’s Hospital. In her former position as senior vice president of the Great American Country television network, she helped organize a Lady Antebellum Christmas special that was filmed at Children’s Hospital.

Vanderbilt is also one of the top recipients of her personal philanthropy, particularly Children’s Hospital, and she has supported the expansion campaign.

“We live here,” she said. “Our neighbors and families go there. We are able to give customized care to young people in our music community that’s just a few blocks away.”

Joey Jacobs

Jacobs is another veteran in the health care industry who is passionate about the mission of Children’s Hospital. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Acadia Healthcare, a Franklin, Tennessee-based provider of mental health services in the United States, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. He has served on the Children’s Hospital Board since 2008.

Joey Jacobs

“I think people that have been blessed or fortunate to succeed have an obligation to give back,” he said. “I saw this as a way I could give back and there’s not a neater place than a Children’s Hospital.”

Jacobs is leading by example. He and his wife, Deborah, helped support an earlier expansion at Children’s Hospital, and they also have generously committed to supporting the coming expansion.

Jacobs draws inspiration from the patient stories he hears about at board meetings.

“We get to hear the patient, their family, maybe a clinician that was involved in the care of the child,” he said. “I wish everyone could hear their stories.”

Setting an example is something that’s very important to Jacobs. He has two sons, and he wants them to give back to their community, too.

“We really think Vanderbilt is a special place, with nationally recognized faculty,” he said. “I keep going back to that. There’s only one Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, and it is world class.”

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