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Teamwork, mission focus key to Pediatrics’ success: Webber

Sep. 10, 2015, 8:30 AM

Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, delivers Tuesday’s State of the Department of Pediatrics Address at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, delivered the annual State of the Department of Pediatrics Address Tuesday to faculty, staff and trainees, focusing on the interconnectedness of three mission areas — research, clinical care and education — as the underpinnings of the department’s continued success.

Webber, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief, spoke before a standing-room-only audience in the theater at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s at Vanderbilt, reviewing the past year’s successes, growth and accomplishments while also previewing the road ahead. The theme throughout his speech was the importance of teamwork across the department, regardless of focus area.

“This is a big village that has room for everybody, and our missions are all equally important,” said Webber, the James C. Overall Professor. “(Our missions) may take on different flavors from one day to the next, they may have different emphasis from one day to the next … but they are all equally important — everybody in our department is equally important, every mission is equally important.”

During the address Webber highlighted various physicians’ awards and faculty contributions, research projects and division programs, while noting that he was barely scratching the surface of great work.

The department’s programs continue to receive national recognition, including earning accolades for the ninth consecutive year in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals, in which the hospital achieved rankings in the maximum 10 out 10 subspecialties.

In research, the department continues to be a top contender for significant funding, despite a reduction in available funds to institutions nationwide. Research funding for Pediatrics edged slightly higher than the previous year for a total of about $51 million in grant and contract funding from all federal and non-federal sources, but with a significant increase in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this past year.

“Some very important discoveries are being made by this department that really impact child health,” Webber said.

Reflecting on growth, he noted that the Doctors’ Office Tower outpatient clinics and off-site clinics saw another year of increasing patient volumes and revenues. For fiscal year 2015, DOT and off-site clinics for all services saw 269,499 outpatient visits, compared with the previous year’s visits of about 250,000.

“We have done very well as a result of everyone’s hard work in the department.”

Webber emphasized how this success has allowed the department to reinvest in all its missions, including new clinical programs, faculty recruitment, residency and fellowships, and in its discovery mission.

In reference to the clinical enterprise, he added “we need to focus not only on volumes but the quality of the work that we do. Quality needs to be embedded in the work that we do every day.”

The department and Children’s Hospital continue to see significant growth and reach into the community as well. Pediatrics’ emergency medicine and hospitalist programs successfully helped launch the emergency department and inpatient services at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center, which opened its doors July 1.

Additionally, Vanderbilt Children’s After-Hours clinics, staffed by Vanderbilt’s board-certified pediatricians, now have four locations — Mt. Juliet, Spring Hill, Hendersonville, and the newest, Brentwood.

Meanwhile, Pediatrics subspecialties and neonatal care continue to expand into outlying communities including Jackson, Hendersonville, Cookeville, Clarksville and beyond.

He also reflected on the upcoming growth of the Children’s Hospital and the planned $100 million four-floor expansion to expand quality pediatric health care, train future pediatricians and make groundbreaking discoveries.

In the end, he reminded his audience to “take time to reflect on progress” and realize that progress takes time and patience.

“Take a deep breath and ask ‘how does my division/my department compare to one year, three years, five years, 10 years ago?’ Take time to reflect on the progress you have all made and the teamwork that is required to make that happen,” said Webber.

“I think you will all realize we’re galloping with massive momentum.”

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