University of Mississippi Medical Center Debuts New Tower

By Eric Althoff

JACKSON, Miss.—This fall saw the unveiling of the new Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower, an addition to the Children’s of Mississippi healthcare system located on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center. A limited-attendance ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Oct. 13, with the event also live-streamed online.

The Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower offers 32 private pediatric ICU rooms, 88 neonatal intensive care rooms, a dozen surgical suites, as well as an imaging center and outpatient specialty clinic, both of which have been designed specifically to accommodate children’s care needs.

According to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the namesake of the new tower was revealed only in September, not long prior to completion. The Sandersons chaired a fundraising campaign for the new tower that has already netted in some $83 million—including a $10 million gift from the couple’s personal fortune. (Other donors include recently retired NFL quarterback Eli Manning, who with his wife gave $1 million to the project.)

In a statement regarding the Sandersons, Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, maintained that without the couple’s hard work and generosity, the project would likely never have even gotten off the ground. Woodward called the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower a “fitting name” for the structure.

The new tower complements the previously completed, seven-story Blair E. Batson Tower at Children’s of Mississippi, which increased the hospital’s outpatient capacity by 40 percent. (That tower was named in honor of Blair E. Batson, who was UMMC’s first pediatrics chair.) Together, the two towers encompass the Magnolia State’s only hospital devoted specifically to pediatric care.

Brasfield & Gorrie, based in Birmingham, Ala., served as the general contractor for both the Kathy and Joe Sanderson Tower as well as the Blair E. Batson Tower. In a recent statement about the expansion, Brasfield & Gorrie Vice President and Division Manager Ed Hauser expressed pride in his firm for continuing on the healthcare project safely in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“This has been a challenging year for the world as we adopt new safety protocols in our daily lives and adapt to new ways of living and doing business,” Hauser said, adding that his firm, in combination with the university, tackled those challenges head-on. “Due to their extraordinary efforts, construction continued to progress, bringing this much-needed facility to fruition in order to provide best-in-class care for the children of Mississippi.”

Both the current and former governors of Mississippi attended the ribbon-cutting virtually. The new tower officially opened its doors for patients on Nov. 2.

“This pediatric expansion will increase access to the state’s only academic medical center, and the new parking deck will help ensure that families’ hospital visits are smooth,” said Hauser of Brasfield & Gorrie, adding that his firm enjoys a long-tenured working relationship with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “We are thankful for their partnership as we work to bring their vision to reality,” he said.