February 12, 2016

Junior League of Nashville commits $1.5 million to Children’s Hospital

The Junior League of Nashville (JLN) committed $1.5 million to its longtime partner, Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, during a special event Friday, Feb. 12.

The gift, part of the Junior League’s eighth supplemental agreement with Children’s Hospital, will go to support the Junior League Home Arts and Entertainment Program, an effort of the Child Life Program, which works with patients and families to promote a positive medical experience. The gift also will help the Growing to New Heights Campaign, which supports the hospital’s upcoming four-floor expansion.

The Junior League of Nashville’s recently announced gift to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt will go to support the hospital’s Child Life Program and the Growing to New Heights Campaign. (photo by Susan Urmy)

“The Junior League of Nashville is grateful for the opportunity to reinvest in our decades-long partnership with Vanderbilt,” said Jennifer Hill, the group’s president. “The opportunity to contribute to the Growing to New Heights Campaign continues JLN’s legacy of providing access to state-of-the-art medical treatment, while our gift to Child Life ensures that patients and families will have the wrap-around care that we know supports families and an improved patient experience.”

For more than 90 years, the Junior League of Nashville has been a champion for children’s health, and has partnered with Vanderbilt during that time to ensure quality care for children. The Junior League has given more than $14.4 million over the years, including the current gift.

“Through their countless, heartfelt acts of service and philanthropy, the Junior League of Nashville continues to have an enormous impact on the lives of all children and families served by Children’s Hospital. I want to express my sincere appreciation for our longstanding partnership, and for this generous gift supporting our Child Life Program and the hospital’s expansion. The benefits will be felt every day,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The Junior League’s latest gift will be the largest ever to the Child Life Program at Children’s Hospital.

Child Life specialists—who are specially trained in child development and the unique needs of children, teens and families—work with patients and families to reduce the stress and anxiety that may be associated with the health care experience. They also create a friendly environment to help children and teens feel more comfortable.

Additionally, they work to meet the developmental, psychosocial, educational and emotional needs of patients and families. Their work may include providing age-appropriate therapeutic play and activities, preparation and coping plans for stressful events, arranging special events and advocating for family-centered care, among other tasks. Child Life specialists partner with music and art therapists, hospital school teachers and pastoral care to provide an environment of support for patients and families.

“The support from the Junior League of Nashville for the Patient- and Family-Centered Care programs at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has been pivotal in the establishment and growth of the Child Life and Creative Arts departments,” said Janet Cross, M.Ed., CCLS, administrative director of Patient- and Family-Centered Care at Children’s Hospital. “This gift will help expand Child Life services to populations not yet receiving this support, improving patient and family engagement and experience in the health care setting.  I am very grateful for our continued partnership. It truly makes a difference in the lives of children and families.”

The gift also supports the upcoming Children’s Hospital expansion and the Growing to New Heights Campaign. In 2013 Vanderbilt announced the expansion to add four floors atop the existing hospital structure to allow for inpatient capacity to grow beyond 300 beds. The expansion will add approximately 160,000 square feet of space.

“The Junior League of Nashville is recognized as a national leader for developing talent and boldly addressing the most challenging social issues in Nashville. Their call to action in the 1920s to serve children with disabilities and illnesses has not faltered in over nine decades. Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital appreciates its partnership with the Junior League,” said Luke Gregory, chief executive officer for Children’s Hospital. “Our hospital’s commitment to patient care and medical discovery is inspired by the 1,500 members of JLN who serve our community.”

The Junior League of Nashville’s partnership with Vanderbilt dates back to 1923, when the Junior League Home for the Crippled Children opened. The home provided free convalescent and rehabilitative medical care for children with polio and other diseases.

In 1971, the home moved to what was then called Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Through the years, the Junior League’s gifts have helped support the Junior League Sickle Cell Disease and Asthma Program, the Junior League Family Resource Center, the Junior League Child Life Specialist Program, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Development Follow-up Clinic, and many more programs. Previous gifts also include providing capital to help build the freestanding Children’s Hospital that opened in 2004 as well as funding for the Junior League Fetal Care Center.

Volunteer work is an important and tremendous part of every gift the Junior League makes to Children’s Hospital. For the 2015-2016 year, 27 Junior League volunteers put in at least 855 hours. Volunteers host special events for patients and families and spend time with patients in the hospital playrooms and at the bedside, whether it’s to play a board game or offer companionship. They also are busy behind the scenes ensuring the hospital has items for the comfort cart, which provides travel-size personal items and snacks for patients’ families.

“I am so grateful to the leadership and membership of the Junior League of Nashville for their continued generosity and ongoing faith in our mission to provide excellence in health care services to children,” said Meg Rush, M.D., MMHC, chief of staff and executive medical director for Children’s Hospital. “We would not be where we are today as a children’s hospital without the shared vision and partnership we have grown over many decades. It is truly a privilege to work with the Junior League to build special programs to serve our patients and families.”