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Our next hundred years look bright

An introduction from
Mike Warren

Children's of Alabama CEO and President

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Nia Turner

Nina Turner

Mia Jacobs Turner knew that she and her husband both carried the sickle cell trait, and that any children they had would have a 1 in 4 chance of having the disease. But they took that chance, because they knew they would love and care for their children, regardless. A few weeks after their daughter Nia was born, they learned that their baby did indeed have the disease. They were prepared, and diligent with her medical care. And six years later, their little girl with a big smile is a typical kindergartener who enjoys playing with her dolls, her Wii game system and her baby brother, who carries the sickle cell trait but does not have the disease.

For more information about the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, visit:

Christopher Ruffin

Christopher Ruffin

Christopher Ruffin

Sanqunette Ruffin feared the worst when her week-old son, Christopher, tested positive for sickle cell anemia. “I remembered what I had heard of sickle cell when I was a kid, and I thought, ‘My baby’s going to die,’” she says. But she learned that with proper medical care, Christopher’s symptoms could be managed and controlled, and pain could be kept to a minimum. Today, he is 17 and a model patient who eats right, exercises and religiously keeps medical appointments. “His doctor will tell you that she loves him because he does exactly what she asks him to do,” Sanqunette says.

Tyler Pate

Tyler Pate

It is a time of day, more than a date, which brings back the awful memory of the tornado that changed Andrea Pate’s life. “It hit at 3:15 pm,” she says. On that afternoon, Andrea was at work in Athens. For hours, she tried to call her husband, Michael, who was with their 2-year-old son, Tyler, at their mobile home in Hillsboro in Lawrence County. There was no answer. Later that day, Andrea discovered that her home was destroyed, and her husband was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Decatur. Tyler left in an ambulance as well, but his whereabouts weren’t immediately known. After an anxious wait, word came that Tyler was at Children’s of Alabama, where he spent the next 13 days. His injuries resulted in some paralysis on his right side, but with continuing physical and occupational therapy, he is improving and his limp is slight. The family lives in Decatur now. Michael returned to work, and Andrea quit her job to care for her family. And yes, the memories of that day are bad, but Andrea chooses to focus on the positive. Her husband and child, she says, survived the storm.

To read more of Tyler’s story, visit:

Rachel Grier

Rachel Grier

Rachel Grier

Most days, Rachel Grier is a happy, playful 6-year-old. But during tornado warnings, Rachel stands watch at the TV, says her mother, Crystal. She is engrossed in the weather updates, fearful that another violent twister – like the one that injured her and destroyed their home – is headed their way. On that fateful day, Crystal, her husband Curt, Rachel and 10-month-old Jacob sought shelter from the coming storms in the basement of their Pleasant Grove home. But that refuge proved no match for the ferocity of a massive tornado. The basement ceiling shattered and the house caved, trapping Rachel’s head between a slab of concrete and her baby brother’s car seat. Debris rendered their neighborhood virtually impassable, even for emergency crews. So neighbors gathered car jacks to hoist the concrete slab and free Rachel’s head and arm. Curt then carried his daughter two miles until he found medical assistance. Rachel was transported to Children’s of Alabama, where doctors were concerned the little girl might never regain full use of her badly damaged arm. But while she still fears tornadoes, she is a survivor of that devastating day in April. In August, an MRI revealed complete healing.

To read more of Rachel's story, visit:

Trinity Norris

Trinity Norris

Trinity Norris

A slight breeze, the swaying of the treetops, and Leslie Norris relives the nightmare of being lifted into the air by a roaring tornado, trying desperately to hold on to her three children. On that spring day, Leslie’s husband, Reginald, spotted an enormous twister headed toward their mobile home community in Holt, in Tuscaloosa County. He gathered the family into the bathtub, threw a mattress over them, and then lay on top. Their entire community was ravaged. Leslie’s next memory of that day is waking up in a field, searching for her family. She found them all, but 2-year-old Trinity was critically injured. A police officer took the little girl to a local hospital, where she was airlifted to Children’s of Alabama for surgery. Her condition was extremely delicate, doctors said, and she might not survive. Yet, slowly, miraculously, Trinity recovered. She is 3 now, and walks with a limp. Her smile sags on one side. But she is alive and happy. She continues physical and occupational therapy, and experiences small successes every day. “We know she is a miracle,” Leslie says.

To read more of Trinity's story, visit:

Noah Stewart

Noah Stewart

Noah Stewart

Noah Stewart strapped a batting helmet on his head shortly before his Pleasant Grove home was destroyed by a tornado on April 27, 2011. The massive twister pulled the 9-year-old from a bathroom, where his family sought shelter, and sent him airborne. Then he was dropped 40 yards from the site where his house had stood. “He was as high as the power poles in the neighborhood, being spun around by the tornado,” his mother says. Noah was rushed to Children’s of Alabama. His helmet was shattered, but miraculously, his injuries were not severe. And Noah’s parents, as well as the doctors at Children’s, are convinced that his full recovery is the direct result of wearing a helmet during the storm.

Courtney Alvis

Courtney Alvis

fondly remembers the first few months after her 16th birthday – driving to the mall, going to the movies and enjoying her newfound independence.

Then came November 1, 2010 and what she thought would be a routine visit to the pediatrician. “I was having trouble breathing and it was hard just to do simple tasks,” the Bessemer teen says. “I thought I had a chest cold.” Her pediatrician discovered a collapsed lung instead, and feared she might have cancer. So she was sent to Children’s of Alabama. “After a bone marrow biopsy and a spinal tap, they told me I had acute T-cell leukemia,” Courtney says. “I just asked them if they could cure it, and my doctor said, ‘We’ll try our best.’” The challenges of treatment were more difficult than she imagined. “I had all of these different side effects – from changes in my weight to losing my hair to neuropathy in my legs,” Courtney says. “I had to relearn how to walk. I was very tired, too. I wouldn’t even want to pick up the remote to change a television channel because that was too much work.” There were emotional challenges as well. “It was tough going back to school and interacting with classmates again and trying to regain my place socially. I didn’t look the same, and I think I had grown as a person. When people would complain about a bad hair day, I’d think, ‘I’m just thankful I have hair.' She is 18 now, and in remission, but continues maintenance visits with the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. Through it all, she’s discovered a career path and the place she wants that career to unfold. She plans to enter nursing school and become a hematology/oncology nurse at Children’s. “I love the way that I looked up to my nurses, and I want to be that person the kids look up to,” Courtney says. Her enthusiasm never waned, even during the tough times, says her mother, Stephanie. On a cold winter day, for example, when Courtney was bald from chemotherapy, she was delighted when she stepped into the hospital and took in the display of illuminated Christmas trees. “She just stopped in the middle of the waiting room and threw her arms out and said, ‘I can’t wait to come here to work every day!” And when that happens, she plans to give her patients the same hope and encouragement her nurses have always given her. “I’ll tell them that even though ‘cancer’ is a scary word, you really can push forward through it,” Courtney says. “Just don’t give up on yourself.”

For more information about the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders, visit:

Jashawn Howard

Jashawn Howard

seemed pale, and his eyes were teary and weak. His mother, Rashundra, knew something wasn't right with her 4-month-old baby.

So she took him to a doctor in her hometown of Phoenix City, and from there he was airlifted to Children’s of Alabama. His kidneys had failed. “I was in shock,” Rashundra says. Jashawn needed dialysis three times a week just to survive. He needed a new kidney, too, but first he had to gain weight. In January of 2011, when Jashawn had reached 22 pounds, he was placed on the transplant list. Fifteen months later, a kidney became available. “They called us that morning and said ‘Pack your bags,’” Rashundra recalls. “It was a long, tough day, but almost immediately after surgery, Jashawn looked better.” His recovery, though, was complicated by the development of diabetes. Drugs used to help recipients accept a new kidney sometimes wreak havoc with insulin production, and previously non-diabetic transplant recipients can develop the disease. Jashawn fell into that category, but he is an active, vibrant toddler nevertheless. He continues to improve, and is being weaned off his diabetes medications. “He’s doing well,” Rashundra says. “And we are all very happy.”

To learn more about our Transplant Program, visit:

Ben Golden

Ben Golden

appeared to be a perfectly healthy newborn. But four weeks after his July 13, 2012, birth, he struggled to breathe.

His mother, Laura, took him to the emergency room, where doctors discovered a weakened, enlarged heart and issued a life-threatening diagnosis: dilated cardiomyopathy. Within days, Ben was placed on the heart transplant waiting list. “His condition grew progressively worse after his diagnosis,” says Dr. James K. Kirklin, professor and director of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s of Alabama. “He was in grave danger of dying before we could locate an appropriate donor.” While Ben waited for his new heart, a vision 30 years in the making was coming true with the Pediatric Cardiovascular Service at the new Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children – connected via crosswalks to UAB’s cardiac physicians. “My father, John Kirklin, who really began cardiac surgery in Birmingham 30 years ago, had wanted to move the pediatric service to Children’s, but at that time, it was considered to be a duplication of services,” says Dr. Kirklin. “So it was a special thrill for me to be a major player in making a single platform of care between Children’s and UAB available to better serve children like Ben.” Thirty-nine days into Ben’s wait, a heart became available in California. That was a challenge, because it would take six hours to fly the heart to Birmingham. But it was a perfect match, and transplant day proved monumental for Ben, his family and the UAB and Children’s cardiovascular services team. “The combination of these factors – a donor from a great distance, the surgery occurring so soon after the move to Children’s, the heart immediately functioning perfectly and the child experiencing no immunologic rejection or infection problems – all of that together really was quite miraculous,” Dr. Kirklin says. The staff, too, proved inspirational. “The nurses, physicians and intensives at Children’s managed this as if they had been doing it every year for the last 10 years,” Dr. Kirklin says. “It was absolutely spectacular.” Ben’s mother agrees: “Ben now has a chance to grow up, and he would not have had that without Children’s and everything that they’ve done. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! You all have been fantastic!” 

To learn more about our Pediatric Cardiovascular Services, visit:

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2012 Overview

The biggest event in a big year for Children’s of Alabama was the August 4, 2012 opening of the $400 million, 12-story Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children. The 760,000-square-foot building enlarged the Children’s campus to more than 2 million square feet, making it the nation’s third largest pediatric health care facility. The building’s June dedication coincided with the U.S. News & World Report rankings that placed Children’s, for the third year in a row, among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals. Then in August, the Joseph S. Bruno Pediatric Heart Center opened at the Russell Building. The new center, a collaboration between Children’s and UAB, provides comprehensive care to children with congenital heart disease.

Click here for a guide to Children’s referral-based services and locations.
Click here for a listing of Children’s of Alabama’s Board of Trustees.

2012 National PAS Conference

Children’s of Alabama and UAB Medicine/Pediatrics teamed for a first as co-sponsors at a national conference. Children’s and UAB co-sponsored the “Meeting at a Glance” board at the 2012 Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Annual Meeting, held April 28 – May 1 in Boston, Massachusetts. PAS comprises the American Pediatric Society, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Academic Pediatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, along with their alliance partners, representing 25-plus pediatric sub-specialty organizations and clubs. More than 7,000 healthcare providers, research scientists and policy makers attend the annual event. Dr. David Kimberlin, UAB Pediatric Infectious Diseases, is president-elect of PAS and was a conference presenter.

US News Rankings

U.S. News Rankings

For the third year in a row, Children’s of Alabama was ranked among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report magazine. Ten of Children’s pediatric specialty services – Cancer, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neonatology, Nephrology, Neurosurgery and Neurology, Pulmonology, Orthopedics and Urology – placed among the top programs in the United States. “We are proud that 10 of our programs were ranked among the nation’s best,” said Mike Warren, Children’s President and CEO. “More importantly, we are delighted to continue telling the Children’s of Alabama story at a national level.” The June 2012, ranking coincided with the dedication of the new Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children expansion on June 5. The 760,000 square-foot, $400 million building makes Children’s the third largest pediatric medical facility in the U.S. Children’s is also one of the 10 busiest pediatric medical facilities in the U.S. and one of just two hospitals in the state recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing.

The complete listing and corresponding rankings can be found at

Doctor Awards

Doctor's Awards

Children’s of Alabama physicians received local and national attention in 2012. In November, B-Metro magazine published the Birmingham-area Super Doctors list, which included a number of Children's physicians. Super Doctors is an organization that recognizes the top doctors within a state or region, as selected by their peers and independent research. In December, numerous Children’s physicians were included in the Best Doctors in America listing, as published in Birmingham magazine. The Best Doctors organization recognizes U.S. physicians who have attained a high degree of peer recognition or professional achievement.

Nursing Awards

Nursing Awards

Valencia Vann, BSN, RN, CLNC, received Staff Nurse of the Year Award from the National Black Nurses Association (in recognition of clinical nursing practice) at the 40th Annual Institute and Conference President’s Gala on Saturday, July 28, 2012 in Orlando, FL.

Cara Nachtman, CA 9 QB received The Association of Nursing Students’ Professional Development Award, Capstone College of Nursing, University of Alabama. Cara will graduate with her BSN in December 2012.

Tracey Cartwright; Kelly Pinion-Smith, MSN, CPN; & Cindy Richards, BSN, CNN received recognition as bMetro Excellence in Nursing Honorees 2012.

Joyce McCormick, BSN, RN, CSPI was awarded the 20 Year CSPI Award by the AAPCC (American Association of Poison Control Centers) and will be honored at the North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology in Las Vegas on October 5, 2012.

Karen Belcher, BSN, RN, CPN received an Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing Living Legacy Award (founded to perpetuate the legacy of Mrs. Moffett and recognizes alumni who have demonstrated a significant contribution to the mental, physical or spiritual wellbeing of others) on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at The Club.

Paige Turner, MSN, RN CPN received the award for Most Outstanding Student in the Master’s Program, UAB School of Nursing May 2012.

Lacrecia Britton, MSN, CRNP was recognized at the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for her work on the CQN projects and the Chapter’s Quality Improvement projects in general at the 2012 Annual Meeting on September 29 at the Wynfey Hotel.

Service Award

Children’s of Alabama is well respected as an employer throughout the state and seeks employees who are interested in helping fulfill its mission of helping children, and who are committed to these five values: Commitment, Compassion, Innovation, Teamwork and Trust. With more than 4,000 employees, Children’s is also among the 20 largest employers in Alabama. Each year, employees celebrating their 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 or 40+ year service anniversary are honored with a reception and dinner. Typically, 500 or more honorees and guests attend this event and enjoy a time of special camaraderie and recognition. Nurse Cathy McGill was the longest tenured staff member honored this past October for her 40+ years with Children’s of Alabama.

Chair Distinctions - Lau and Carruthers

Three of Children’s outstanding physicians were named to endowed chairs, honoring three long-time members of the Children’s of Alabama Board of Trustees.

Yung Ruang Lau, M.D., is the first recipient of the Thomas N. Carruthers, Jr., Endowed Chair in Pediatric Cardiology. Dr. Lau, a nationally recognized expert in his field, is the only pediatric electro physiologist in Alabama. Dr. Lau serves as medical director of Alabama LifeStart, a statewide defibrillator outreach program sponsored by Children’s and UAB. Mr. Carruthers, who was named to the Board of Trustees of Children’s of Alabama in 1990, served as chairman in 1996 and 1997.

Chair Distinctions - Pass and Dubina

Robert F. Pass, M.D., is the first to receive the Beth Gordy Dubina Endowed Chair in Pediatric Hospital Medicine. Dr. Pass is nationally recognized for his expertise in the field of pediatric infectious diseases and his leadership in the growth and development of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. He is honored for his role as director of general inpatient pediatrics as well. Ms. Dubina joined the Board of Directors of the Alabama Children’s Hospital Foundation in 1989 and has served on the Board of Trustees for Children’s of Alabama since 2002.

Chair Distinctions - Grant and Lee

John H. Grant III, M.D., is the first recipient of the James C. Lee III Endowed Chair in Pediatric Plastic Surgery. Dr. Grant’s work as chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery and director of the UAB Cleft and Craniofacial Center, as well as his expertise and national reputation in pediatric plastic surgery, are recognized by this honor. Mr. Lee joined the Board of Directors of the Alabama Children’s Hospital Foundation in 1989, and served as chairman in 1990. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees for Children’s of Alabama since 1992.

Click here for a full listing of Children’s of Alabama’s Chair Distinctions.

Bruno Pediatric Heart Center

Bruno Pediatric Heart Center

In mid-October, the first pediatric cardiology patients were transferred from UAB Hospital to the newly opened Joseph S. Bruno Pediatric Heart Center at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children. Prior to the move, many pediatric cardiology patients were admitted to Children’s, and then transferred to UAB for surgery and back to Children’s for post-operative care. The Bruno Pediatric Heart Center also includes a 20-room cardiovascular intensive care unit, two dedicated surgical suites, three heart and vascular catheterization labs and four dedicated extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) rooms. A cardiac care unit for telemetry-monitored patients is located on the Russell Building’s eighth floor. The showpiece of the Bruno Heart Center, which occupies the entire fourth floor of the Russell Building, is a pediatric hybrid catheterization suite. The suite, equipped with $3 million in state-of-the-art technology, is the only one of its kind in Alabama. It is connected via skywalk to the UAB Women and Infants Center (where Pediatric Cardiology’s outpatient clinic remains) and Adult Congenital Heart Services at UAB’s North Pavilion. The relocation streamlines the pathway of care and combines under one roof, the nationally-renowned expertise of UAB physicians with the highly specialized care unique to Children’s.

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Community Benefits

2012 Community Benefits

In the course of caring for over 600,000 sick and injured children each year, we gain extraordinary insight into and knowledge about the health and well-being of children and their families. We put this precious information to work in partnership with other child-centric organizations in our community in efforts to improve the health and safety of our young patients and all children throughout our community.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 3.8 million athletes suffer a concussion every year in the U.S. The effect of these concussions on the developing and adolescent brain is unknown, but athletes who have had a single concussion are much more likely to suffer subsequent concussions. Most concussions are associated with symptoms like headaches, confusion, nausea, dizziness and blurred vision--and only occasionally loss of consciousness. When a concussion is suspected, it is critical that the athlete be immediately removed from competition for medical assessment to avoid the risk of significant brain injury. The Concussion Clinic at Children's of Alabama opened on August 15, 2011 to provide evaluation, treatment and medical clearance for "return to play" for youth and teenage athletes in our community. The strength of our program lies in interdisciplinary collaboration among skilled athletic trainers, nurses and physicians from the divisions of Emergency Medicine, Sports Medicine, Neurosurgery, Rehabilitation Medicine and Neuropsychology. The Concussion Clinic’s mission also involves working with the Alabama sports community to educate parents, trainers, coaches and athletic directors about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussion in young athletes. In support of this mission, Corporate Communications at Children’s launched a statewide advertising campaign in the fall of 2011, which continued throughout 2012. Components of the campaign included a message integration with Kohl’s ThinkFirst and partnerships through IMG Sports Marketing with Auburn University, Troy University, the University of Alabama and UAB. The campaign included print advertisements and an in-theater announcement that ran from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day on 183 movie screens across the state for a total of more than 3,800 ads. The print ads ran in seven publications during October through December, reaching a circulation of over 150,000 people. The initiative also included public service announcements at sporting events, radio advertisements and electronic signage at games for all sports during the 2011-2012 academic year. In its first five months of operation, the Concussion Clinic saw 250 concussion patients--compared with just 60 in the previous year’s entire school period.

Teen Driving

Teen Driving

Alabama ranks #2 in the nation in the rate of teenagers killed behind the wheel in motor vehicle crashes. In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities, safety experts from Children’s of Alabama helped lead a teen-driving workshop on October 30, 2012. Co-sponsors at the 4th Annual Crash Course Teen Driving Summit, held at the Pelham Civic Complex, also included the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, Kohl’s ThinkFirst, Safe Kids, SALTEENS, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, the Mountain Brook School System, the Allstate Foundation and the Alabama Departments of Transportation and Public Health. Teen leaders from Jefferson County high schools, as well as Pelham, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills high schools, were invited to the event, and expected to share the information with their peers. They learned about the Alabama Graduated Driver License Law and the dangers of distracted driving through interactive stations and presentations, as well as poster and video contests. Speakers included State Representatives Jim McLendon and Paul DeMarco, who are strong proponents of the Alabama Graduated Driver License Law. Other speakers included Barb Hurst of Hoover, whose 15-year-old daughter died in a car crash in 2010, and “Daytime Alabama” host Wendy Garner, whose brother-in-law, Ty Garner, suffered a traumatic brain injury when hit by a distracted driver while cycling. Ty and his mother, Lynne Garner, who is now the primary caregiver for her adult son, spoke at the event as well. Children’s also partners with the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Alabama Departments of Public Health and Public Safety and other state agencies that comprise the Alabama Safe Teen Driving Coalition. On September 27, 2012, the coalition unveiled educational teen driving toolkits designed to help pediatricians discuss safe driving with teenage patients and their parents.

Life Start

Alabama LifeStart

In 2012, Alabama LifeStart – a joint venture of Children's of Alabama and UAB – placed additional automated external defibrillators and training materials in each of the Walker County school system’s 19 schools. (The defibrillators, called AEDs, deliver shocks to restore normal heart rhythm.) A $7,700 grant from the Walker County Community Foundation jumpstarted the process, which led to the system’s designation as the first “Heart Safe School System” in Alabama. The award signifies that the system integrates AED education and training into its ninth-grade curriculum. In August of 2011, Alabama LifeStart, in partnership with the Lord Wedgwood Charity, completed placement of AEDs in every public middle, junior and high school in the state that did not have one. Their goal now is to equip larger schools with additional AEDs, and to provide every school with the educational materials, equipment and training to help avoid deaths from cardiac arrest.

  • Tips for Safe Babysitting

  • Helmet Safety

  • Packing a Healthy School Lunch

Partners in KidsHealth

Partners in KidsHealth, a monthly multimedia bulletin published by Children’s of Alabama, features Children’s experts discussing issues affecting children, parents and families. The articles and videos, which include pediatric health and safety information, are available for use by the general public.

  • Children's South Kid's Safety

  • Children's South After Hours

A Minute with Children's

“A Minute with Children’s” is a monthly TV segment featuring interviews with Children’s of Alabama staff members about health and safety issues. The segments are broadcast statewide though a partnership with WBRC Fox 6.

Special Needs Expo

Special Needs Expo

Special Needs Expo is an annual health and wellness event for families - statewide and beyond - who have children with special needs. Staff members from six Children’s of Alabama departments shared information on health care, recreation, therapy and more at the 2012 Expo, held at the Pelham Civic Center.



More than 10 Children’s of Alabama departments participated in Babypalooza 2012 at St. Vincent’s 119. Babypalooza – produced by Lifestages Media, publishers of Alabama Baby & Child magazine – is an annual event featuring parenting, birth, adoption and health information from numerous community resources. This year’s event drew a record crowd, with more than 5,000 attendees. Babypalooza 2013 is scheduled for August 17, 2013 at the Pelham Civic Center.

Jones Valley Teaching Farm

Jones Valley Teaching Farm

Jones Valley Teaching Farm received the 2012 Jim Dearth Advocacy Award, which honors the late pediatric oncologist and Children’s of Alabama CEO Jim Dearth, MD, and rewards excellence in child advocacy initiatives from organizations statewide. Jones Valley Teaching Farm empowers future generations to eat smarter and live healthier lives through hands-on programs at schools and its urban farm in Birmingham. The Seed to Plate program, for example, brings students to the farm - an outdoor laboratory where they learn about where food comes from and why what they eat matters. Other programs include a farmer’s market, based at a Birmingham elementary school, where students grow fresh produce to sell to the community. Their newest initiative is a web-based competition for Birmingham City School students that focus on local food systems and nutrition.

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The June 5 dedication ceremony for the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children marked completion of construction on the $400 million, 12-story, 760,000-square-foot expansion at Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only freestanding pediatric hospital. Gov. Robert Bentley, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Children’s CEO and President Mike Warren, along with other hospital leadership and staff, watched as youngsters who have received care at Children’s presented keys to the building to Physician-in-Chief Dr. Sergio Stagno, Chief Nursing Executive Deb Wesley and Surgeon-in-Chief/Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery Dr. Jerry Oakes. The Russell building, located one block north of the existing facility, accommodates projected growth in patient volume, anticipated medical technology needs and Children’s consolidation of pediatric cardiology services with UAB. It is the largest medical facility expansion project in the history of Alabama, and makes Children’s the third largest pediatric hospital in the United States. It is also the largest building project in state history to gain certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and will be the first LEED-certified hospital in Alabama. The building’s name honors legendary Alabama entrepreneur Benjamin Russell and recognizes the $25 million gift from his grandson, Ben Russell and his wife, Luanne. Other major gifts include: $10 million from McWane, Inc. and the McWane Foundation; $8 million from the Monday Morning Quarterback Club; $5 million from Raymond and Kathryn Harbert; and $5 million from the Hugh Kaul Foundation. KLMK Group was project manager; Hoar Construction, in partnership with BE&K, served as construction manager; and HKS, Inc., in partnership with Giattina Aycock Studio, served as architects. Construction, which began in May 2009, was completed on time and under budget.


A number of tours helped celebrate completion of the $400 million Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children. An estimated 5,000-plus people, including donors, staff, media, family, friends and business associates, explored the 12-story, 760,000-square-foot building between May 23rd and August 3rd, 2012.

Patient Move

Patient Move

The “Big Move” to the newly completed Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children was much too big to happen in one day. The Lab moved into its new space in mid-July, followed by the Pharmacy. Sterile Processing settled into their new quarters next, then ancillary services and offices. The biggest day of the Big Move, though, was patient move-in day on August 4, 2012. The day began with the Command Center opening at 4:30 a.m. The Emergency Department was ready for patients by 5 a.m. Patient moves began at 6 a.m. and continued throughout the day. When the Big Move was complete, Children’s of Alabama President and CEO Mike Warren congratulated the team and said, “Now we must focus on the people and programs needed to make the highest level of comprehensive pediatric care available to all the children of Alabama and this region.”

Taking Shape

The stunning new Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, which opened to patients August 4, offers unsurpassed technology and family-centered care. The $400 million, 12-story, 760,000 square foot building is the largest single medical facility project in state history, and makes Children’s of Alabama the third largest pediatric hospital, in square footage, in the U.S. It is the first healthcare facility in the state to gain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, due to its design and use of environmentally responsible materials. Bright colors punctuate the building’s curvilinear glass design. More than 180 pieces of art – most from Alabama artists – decorate the interior, and patient floors are identified by colorful themes. The number of beds, in spacious, private rooms, increased from 275 to 332, and newborn intensive care bassinets increased from 42 to 48 – which ranks Children’s in the top 10 pediatric medical centers, based on bed count. There are 17 state-of-the-art operating rooms, up from 12, with two cardiovascular surgery rooms – the first in Children’s history. For the first time, too, there is room for projected growth in patient volume, anticipated medical technology needs and planned comprehensive solid organ transplant care.

The Art of the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children

The Art of the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children

The Children’s of Alabama art collection includes more than 180 vibrant pieces representing a wide range of subject matter, style and form. Most of the contributors – about 70 significant, diverse artists – are from Alabama. The colorful artwork complements the interior architecture of the magnificent new Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, and appeals to the children we serve, their families and friends, and the staff. The collection offers a delightful introduction to art, and the artists of Alabama, as well.

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Employee Facts at a Glance

Total Number of Employees


Years of Service

Less than 1 year 18.97% 804
1 – 5 years 34.77% 1474
6 – 10 years 17.74% 752
11 – 15 years 12.48% 529
16 – 20 years 5.97% 253
21 – 25 years 4.41% 187
26 –30 years 3% 127
31 – 40 years 2.22% 94
41 – 55 years 0.45% 19
Years of Service


Ages 18-29 Ages 18–29 25.03% 1,061 employees Ages 45-59 Ages 45–59 29.37% 1,245 employees
Ages 30-44 Ages 30–44 38.783% 1,644 employees Ages 60+ Ages 60+ 6.82% 289 employees

Number of Hours Worked

less than 20
3197 75.42% 625 14.74% 417 9.84%


Female Male
3552 687
83.79% 16.21%

Largest Department

227 employees
Largest Department

Work Shift

Largest Department
Shift 1 Shift 2 Shift 3
71% 16% 14%
2990 663 586
*Info provided by Human Resources year-to-date as of December 5, 2012

Statistical Highlights

Patients 2009 2010 2011 2012
Inpatient Discharges 14,062 13,904 13,365 13,596
Patient Days 81,156 81,057 79,681 81,580
Average Length of Stay (in days) 5.77 5.83 5.96 6.00
Emergency Department Visits 47,299 46,700 46,622 51,259
Critical Care Transports 997 932 914 947
Outpatient Visits 661,321 648,512 634,830 670,029
Surgical Patients
Inpatient 5,201 5286 5,117 5,171
Outpatient 15,469 15,618 15,661 16,427
Total 20,670 20,904 20,778 21,598

Patients by Age

Patients by Age, 2012
Greater Than 18 2.43%
13 – 18 20.82%
7 – 12 25.66%
1 – 6 39.78%
Less Than 1 11.32%

Payor by Mix

59.56% 28.76% 4.32% 3.03% 2.85% 1.48%
Medicaid Blue CrossBlue
Other/Gov.Other CommercialComm.
Payor by Mix, 2012
2012 patients by origin Inpatients Outpatients
5 County Primary Service Area 50.5% 84.8%
All Other Counties 47.1% 14.5%
Out of State 2.5% 0.7%
Number of Other States 41
Number of Other Countries 4

About the Foundation

2012 highlighted the opening of the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children and the continued world-class care provided to hundreds of thousands of sick and injured children.

Our caring community contributed over $10 million to help make this hospital a very special healing place for children and their families. Philanthropy did more than help make the new facility a reality, it also helped make a number of critical 2012 initiatives possible. Children’s purchased new technologies for the ORs, new equipment for neonatal kidney patients and a brain mapping system for young epilepsy patients. Enthusiastic families led fundraising efforts for our care programs in cancer, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Rett Syndrome, to name but a few. All of our support services, including Social Services, Pastoral Care, Child Life and CHIPS, depend heavily on our community for funding. Buildings do not heal children, so our community message is migrating from the beauty of our new facility to the power of the medicine inside. We will keep you informed as those initiatives are defined. This year we are pleased to include lists of our Family Friends (annual fund), our Generations Society (legacy giving) and our record setting Keeping Promises capital campaign. Please go to to make note of the generosity of our community in 2012.

Philanthropy Highlights


Private Philanthropy by Type

Private Philanthropy by Type, 2012
Annual/Direct $5,780,891
Cause Marketing / Sponsorships $2,257,818
Events $1,098,091
Operating / Research Grants $1,334,911
Total $10,471,711

Total Support by Source

Total Support by Source, 2012
Organizations $6,293,310
Government Grants & Program Support $5,012,011
Individuals $2,463,836
Foundations $1,714,565
Total $15,483,722
capital campaign receipts
For a full listing of all donor gifts and pledges to the Keeping Promises Capital Campaign please visit:

Donor Stories

In addition to the completion of Children’s expansion facility, The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children, we also named several former buildings on campus in honor or memory of long-time friends of Children’s of Alabama. The following video is an overview of the ceremonies celebrating these individuals and families and the naming of the facilities that bear their names.

Mike and Jean Thompson Skyline Dinner 2012 Mike and Jean Thompson Skyline Dinner 2012

Thompson Foundation

The Thompson Foundation’s generous gift to the capital campaign represented yet another chapter in the long history of support that the Thompson family has provided to Children’s. Mike’s parents, the late Hall Thompson, and wife Lucy, were ardent supporters of our mission. The family foundation, the Thompson Foundation, has continued that legacy of giving. In addition, just as Children’s has served many generations since our founding in 1911, the next generation of Thompsons has also connected with Children’s. Daughter Lucy Thompson Marsh is a member of our Committee for the Future. The Thompson Foundation’s gift is recognized on the terrace off of the lobby in the new Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children.

Express Oil Change A Life Campaign

Express Oil Change A Life Campaign

Express Oil Change & Service Center’s Change A Life Campaign supports research, patient care and art therapy at The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama. Since its inception in 2008, this campaign has made a tremendous impact on the lives of Alabama’s children. A special unveiling of “Beach Bound” was dedicated to Express Oil Change recently for its annual support of pediatric cancer patients treated at the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's of Alabama. The acrylic-on-canvas artwork was commissioned by Children's and created by several children - Zaria Jones, Quintez Gilbert, Nelly Vasquez, Harlen Vasquez and Landon Unger - under the supervision of Sarah Margaret Wade of VSA Arts Alabama and will be on display in the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children expansion. Wade says the concept for this piece reflects children being active, enjoying time with family, enjoying the beach, building and playing. The patients met with Wade during multiple individual sessions. Patients were asked, “If you could vacation anywhere - where would you go?” Many patients mentioned the beach and talked about their most recent visit there. Wade asked patients to name their favorite things to do at the beach and tried to incorporate those images into the painting. One family worked on the sky and the water, allowing bits of the orange background to pop through to show contrast. Wade and the children also discussed waves - the rocky ones and the calm ones; talked about the metaphor of waves and life's hardships. One boy wanted to put a green plane in the picture; another added a turtle. Others mentioned sand castles and crabs. All the images slowly came together over a six to eight-week period and the children truly took ownership and pride in their work.

2012 Committee for the Future member Lance Poole and wife and Teresa at the Illuminations Ball 2012 Committee for the Future member Lance Poole and wife and Teresa at the Illuminations Ball

Committee for the Future

Through the Committee for the Future, Children's of Alabama hopes to give emerging community leaders throughout Alabama the opportunity to experience our unique mission firsthand so that they may share our stories of hope in their communities. In addition, we hope that members find meaningful ways to connect with our patients and their families. Since 2007, a total of 180 Committee members have contributed countless hours of service to Children’s of Alabama.

Click here for more information on The Committee for the Future.