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Nighttime event shines light on community support

Oct. 2, 2019, 3:57 PM

Champ and Kix Brooks rally the crowd as hundreds of participants shine their small flashlights up to patients during Night Lights at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. (photo by Anne Rayner)

by Jessica Pasley

For years, families, businesses and organizations from the community contributed to the effort to build Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee’s only freestanding pediatric hospital.

Nashville is a perfect example of the adage “it takes a village.” Patients and families, physicians, nurses and staff of Children’s Hospital can attest to that.

Once again, the community pulled together, gathering on the streets adjacent to Children’s Hospital to show support for the hundreds of children receiving care at the hospital.

At 7 p.m. on Oct. 1, participants held a special ‘flashlight good night’ with patients, shining their lights from the streets below the hospital as a signal of support called Night Lights.

Children and their families reciprocated the gesture, aiming miniature flashlights down to the hundreds of supporters below.

Some of Nashville’s most prominent structures— the Adventure Science Center, AT&T Building, Bridgestone Arena, Bridgestone Corporation Office Tower, Korean Veterans Bridge, Metro Courthouse and Omni Hotel — also were lit in primary colors as a display of support.

“The Night Lights at Children’s Hospital moment is another shining example of how the Nashville and Middle Tennessee communities and businesses have supported our children and their health care needs for many decades,” said Luke Gregory, Chief Executive Officer of Children’s Hospital. “We are very grateful that our community took the time to provide this special good night experience to children and families and that Nashville’s iconic structures and buildings joined in the celebration by lighting up in our colors. Everything we do every day to care for more than 1,700 children is made possible by our community.”

Physicians, nurses and staff of Children’s Hospital, Vanderbilt University Police Department, Nashville Fire Department and EMS, and student groups from local universities also lined the streets to say a special good night to the patients.

The event was part of a celebration to commemorate the opening of the 10th floor of the hospital, the first of four new floors that are a part of a $150 million construction project that began in 2016.

The expansion is supported by the Growing to New Heights Campaign, a philanthropic effort to fund the addition that was kick-started by a $10 million gift from the daughters of Monroe Carell Jr., the building’s namesake — Kathryn Carell Brown, Julie Carell Stadler and Edie Carell Johnson and their families. Brown served as campaign chair.

Tinzley Couch, 7, shines her mini flashlight back down at the crowd lining the street in front of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt during a special ‘flashlight good night’ for patients. (photo by Nathan Morgan)

“The Growing to New Heights Campaign was a true community effort,” said Brown. “I am humbled by the remarkably generous ways the community gave of their time and support to make the expansion possible. I know my parents were smiling down on us, as the city of Nashville lit up the night sky to show support for the patients and families at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. I cannot wait to see the breakthroughs that will take place and the lives that will be transformed as the new floors continue to open.”

The newest floor, opened in June, consists of a 38-bed unit, the Pediatric Heart Institute, that creates a dedicated space for cardiac care, bringing together cardiology-related specialties onto one floor.

The second area of expansion, the 11th floor, is slated to open in spring 2020. It will be occupied by a 23-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as well as 15 acute care beds, increasing the total number of beds within the hospital from 267 to 339. The two additional floors will be shelled for future use.

Since moving into the freestanding structure in 2004, Children’s Hospital has been in a nearly continuous building mode to create programs and spaces needed to deliver state-of-the-art care to the region’s fastest growing population.

The community’s longstanding support of the hospital’s mission to provide world-class care, hope and healing for the region’s youngest patients and their families is exactly what Monroe Carell Jr. and Ann Scott Carell envisioned. It was only fitting that Oct. 1, the day of the Night Lights celebration, coincidentally happened to be Monroe’s birthday.

Children’s Hospital, the region’s only comprehensive, nonprofit pediatric health care provider, offers care to patients with simple-to-complex health issues. It has more than 400 physicians trained in 30 pediatric specialties. Once all four floors of the expansion are complete, 160,000 square feet of space will be added, bringing the hospital’s total footprint to more than 1 million square feet.

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