By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital may be based in Memphis, but it has a vested interest in the health and well-being of children in Northeast Mississippi.
Le Bonheur’s chief executive, Meri Armour, briefed the Community Development Foundation’s First Friday crowd on the comprehensive programs the children’s hospital offers, its nearly completed expansion and its Northeast Mississippi outreach.
“We want to do anything we can do to continue to foster high-quality pediatrics in Northeast Mississippi,” Armour said. “We have a wonderful foundation with providers here. It can only get better.”
The hospital was named one of the nation’s best children’s hospitals by U.S. News and World Reports. The 255-bed children’s hospital covers a huge swath of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky. With its fetal medicine center, the hospital actually starts caring for children before they are born.
“We have a huge amount of responsibility,” Armour said.
Le Bonheur is in the final stages of a $340 million expansion that expands its medical facilities, provides more space for families and doubles the space for pediatric medical research. It will be fully complete in August 2012.
The outreach clinic Le Bonheur offers in Tupelo in partnership with North Mississippi Medical Center brings specialists to see 3,000 children annually, Armour said. The clinic is set to add gastroenterology to its lineup of specialists next year.
The hospital has made a critical difference for many local families, including the Scotts, whose daughter, Emma Pearl, was diagnosed at age 3 with a heart defect and had open heart surgery at Le Bonheur.
“I’m so grateful to this hospital, and what they’ve done for us,” said Kelly Scott, co-owner of Computer Universe, which helped sponsor Friday’s event.