August 5, 2005

Children’s Hospital’s growth strong: Strauss

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Arnold Strauss, M.D., provided an overview of the past year for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt at Tuesday’s address.
photo by Anne Rayner

Children’s Hospital’s growth strong: Strauss

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt enjoyed a banner year in all major phases of operations, said Arnold Strauss, M.D., medical director and chair of the Department of Pediatrics.

In his annual “State of the Department Address” on Tuesday, Strauss outlined growth in the hospital’s patient care, education and research missions as well as financial performance information.

A main focus of the department is education, Strauss said, adding, “we do this well.”

The pediatric education component continues to grow in strength, and 15 percent of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students choose Pediatrics or Medicine/Pediatrics residencies.

The residency program remains in high demand, with 663 applications for 22 positions this year — seven of which were ultimately filled by Vanderbilt graduates.

“Our residents are a diverse group, and I'm very happy we have that in terms of how they interact with each other,” Strauss said.

Vanderbilt boasts some of the highest passing scores for the American Board of Pediatrics — 97 percent from 2002 to 2004.

“This is among the highest of all institutions that train pediatricians,” he said.

The department is making strides in faculty retention and recruitment, as well. As of July 1, the department employed more than 150 full-time faculty, growing 54 percent since FY 2000; and the rate of turnover is low, averaging 2.7 percent per year. The department is currently searching for a vice chair for Advocacy and Community Affairs.

“Financial performance has been remarkably strong despite the additional costs of moving into this building,” Strauss said. “We've more than doubled our net revenue in the past five years.”

As expected, since the first clinics opened in the Doctors' Office Tower last December, outpatient services visits have grown from just under 100,000 in FY 2004 to nearly 130,000 in FY 2004. (This year includes approximately 23,000 visits for surgical specialties).

“The growth of surgical specialty visits are critical for development of care,” Strauss said.

Strauss said that future goals are to continue to recruit, retain and educate more nurses to staff more inpatient rooms and to complete the move to the outpatient facility in Doctors' Office Tower.

Floors eight, nine and 11 should be occupied by September.

“The goal of having these clinical specialties together is to consolidate pediatric clinical services in one location,” he said.

Federally funded research in the Department of Pediatrics ranked eighth among all pediatrics departments in the United States, with National Institutes of Health awards totaling $17.9 million in 2004.

Pediatric research funding has grown so much that new research space for pediatrics in Medical Research Building IV is needed. Approximately 30,000 square feet of new research space — double the current space — will be devoted to pediatrics.

The Advocacy and Community Relations at Children's Hospital continues to make great strides with 433 members of the Cumberland Pediatrics Foundation in 144 locations. Also, Children's Hospital partnered with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen's office and the Imagination Library for the literacy program Books From Birth of Middle Tennessee, among other educational and outreach campaigns.

Strauss closed, stating, “We continue to strive for excellence. Sometimes we forget to say thank you for your role in all these successes, which could not have happened without each other.”