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Department of Pediatrics’ achievements, goals outlined

Sep. 4, 2014, 8:50 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 John Russell)

Steven Webber, MBChB, MRCP, detailed the Department of Pediatrics’ accomplishments over the past year and looked ahead in Tuesday’s annual State of the Department address.
Webber, chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Pediatrician-in-chief of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, spoke to faculty, staff and trainees, delving into the department’s mission areas of research, education and clinical care.

At the core of his message he returned time and again to the importance of relationships whether within Vanderbilt or in the community.

A significant portion of Webber’s address highlighted the many successes of the department, drawing attention to various physicians’ awards and contributions, research projects and division programs, while stressing he was only scratching the surface.

“It’s always good to stop and think about all your accomplishments; yes your accomplishments. It will help reenergize you,” Webber, the James C. Overall Professor, told the audience.

“Perhaps the most important observation is that in our department we believe equally in all three missions and equally value all our faculty and staff irrespective of which space they primarily work in: education, clinical care or research. We should never forget this, as this goes to the core of our values.”

In research, the department continues to achieve high rankings for NIH grant funding, earning the No. 4 spot in pediatrics on the annual list from Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. Despite a tough economic climate for the availability of national research funds, the department was able to maintain status quo staying around $50 million in total research grants and contract funding from all federal and non-federal sources.

He pointed to recognitions and accolades including U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospital rankings, in which the hospital achieved rankings in 9 out of 10 subspecialties.

Additionally, he mentioned the Top Performer Award for “Inpatient Services — Children’s Hospitals” in the 2014 Excellence in Healthcare Award, sponsored by Professional Research Consultants Inc. (PRC).

Education and training remain great strengths of the department, with 103 residents and 76 fellows, with many doctors in training showing increasing interest in being placed with community physicians in community practices for educational experiences, as well as many taking the opportunity to participate in electives in developing countries.

In clinical care, the Department continues to grow, with ever increasing numbers of patients seeking services. There was approximately 5 percent growth in outpatient visits from 2013-2014.
There also continues to be great emphasis on quality of care and performance improvement, including the introduction of multiple new clinical pathways and the implementation of a new program focusing on the care of children with medical complexity.

Pediatric care continues to expand into the community. The Department of Pediatrics faculty now provides care at 13 different locations, ranging from the Children’s Hospital After-Hours clinics to subspecialty and neonatal care in communities such as Clarksville, Jackson, Cookeville, Spring Hill and beyond, with more growth on the horizon.

Switching gears, Webber looked at the road ahead, grabbing a photo from a family vacation as a metaphor for what the path looked like.

“It’s a nice metaphor: the road looking into the distance, with bumps along the way but nothing too terrible; with clouds in the sky but not too stormy,” he said.

He referenced several projects, including the four-floor expansion atop the existing hospital tower and equipment upgrades to the gastroenterology suite.

Also in 2015, Children’s Hospital will begin staffing the new inpatient hospital unit and pediatric emergency department at Williamson Medical Center.

“We must continue to listen to the needs of our patients and their families and our community partners. We must also continue to focus on the patient’s experience, particularly as it pertains to access to subspecialty care.

“We are making great strides, but we must be sure they continue,” Webber said.

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