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Address outlines Pediatrics’ achievements, goals

Sep. 19, 2019, 9:07 AM

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

by Christina Echegaray

In his annual State of the Department of Pediatrics address, Steven Webber, MRCP, the department’s chair, detailed the significant growth the department has enjoyed in the past year.

Webber, Pediatrician-in-Chief of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and James C. Overall Professor, delivered his address to a crowd in the Children’s Hospital theater, describing how the department’s gains have been experienced across all four mission areas — clinical, discovery, education and advocacy and service.

He reviewed the past fiscal year, celebrated achievements and promotions and spoke about what lies ahead.

“As a department we are doing extremely well, and that’s reflective of the amazing, hard work of those of you all in the room and those who can’t be here today,” he said. “Everything we do is dependent on the people in this department.”

With more than 800 people — faculty and staff — in the department, the clinics are seeing more pediatric patients than ever in Nashville and across the state at 19 different clinic locations offering after-hours and subspecialty care. Additionally, the department manages several NICUs and nurseries across the state.

As a result, outpatient clinic visits grew 7.5% with more of those patients being seen in clinic sooner within a 14-day period compared to last year.

“That growth is not just happening in the Doctors’ Office Tower, it’s also being achieved by outreach expansion. We’re providing care from Knoxville to Memphis,” Webber said. “We provide the best quality specialty care, and we want children to come to see us for that care.”

The Department of Pediatrics will continue to expand patients’ access to services in the community when the new Vanderbilt Children’s Surgery and Clinics 37,500 square-foot-facility in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, opens to patients in November.

In the discovery mission, the department again set an all-time high in total research grant and contract expenditures, with more than $63 million from all federal and non-federal sources. Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research ranked the department No. 3 on its annual list of National Institutes of Health grant funding for departments of pediatrics within schools of medicine. That ranking is up from last year’s No. 4 ranking.

Education and training remain integral to the department’s mission to prepare the next generation of physicians, who come from all over the country as residents and for postdoctoral fellowships. With a slight increase in trainees, there are now 114 residents and 85 post-doctoral fellows.

In the community, the department is committed to advocacy and service, maintaining a strong partnership with community physicians and the Cumberland Pediatric Foundation with efforts like an outpatient antibiotic stewardship program to prevent multi-resistant bacteria and continued work around HPV vaccination.

Looking ahead, the department and Children’s Hospital are readying for the opening of the 11th floor expansion, set to open in early 2020. Additionally, the Hematology and Oncology Clinic and Infusion space will undergo significant renovations to better serve that patient population. Also, a new catherization lab will be added to the third floor of the hospital.

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