December 12, 2003

New era begins with dedication of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital

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Almost 1,000 people gathered in front of the new Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Dec. 6 to dedicate the new facility. Anne Rayner

New era begins with dedication of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital

A new era in the care of children was launched Saturday when almost 1,000 people cheered the ribbon cutting that officially opened the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Streamers traced paths through the air, a brass band played, white birds fluttered through the sky, confetti cannons boomed and children dressed in red made a chain of live paper dolls.

The enthusiastic throng gathered under crisp winter skies to applaud speeches and greetings from Vanderbilt leadership, local and national political figures including Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell, the mother of a Vanderbilt Children’s patient, and Monroe Carell Jr., the Nashville business executive who is the hospital’s lead donor and namesake.

Carell told about his experience being hospitalized as a child and what a dream it has been for him to build a hospital just for children.

“Dreams really do come true. Thank you for sharing this realization of a dream with me today,” he said.

Onlookers gathered outside after touring the hospital, warmed their hands with cups of hot apple cider, enjoyed gingerbread cookies in the form of paper dolls and listened to the speakers.

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, directed a portion of his remarks to the many employees in attendance.

“Without the wonderful reputation you have helped us build for this Children’s Hospital, without the careful planning and attention to detail that you have insisted on every step of the way, without the uncommon dedication to your work and to the comfort of the children we serve and their families, without you — this day would not be possible,” he said.

Until Saturday, Nashville was the only city among the top 25 in the nation that didn’t have a freestanding hospital dedicated to serving children and their families. The new hospital, which cost nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, is the biggest single construction project ever undertaken by Vanderbilt and the single biggest construction project ever built in the city of Nashville, according to Jacobson.

Other speakers shared comments about the new state-of-the-art children’s hospital:

Dr. Bill Frist, U.S. Senate Majority leader and a former Vanderbilt heart surgeon, commented, “This facility sets a new standard for children’s hospitals throughout the nation, and I would say throughout the world.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper extended this praise out to the community for the “truly magnificent display of generosity and kindness” which raised $78 million towards the building project.

Chancellor Gordon Gee reaffirmed the hospital’s mission to give back to the community.

“The mark of a great institution is not only what it does for the world, but also what it does in its own backyard,” Gee said.

The Monroe Carell Jr., Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt will officially begin treating patients Jan. 9.