Year In Review

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Superhero Month

October typically ushers in autumn outings and all things pumpkin, but at Children’s, it’s all about superheroes. Children’s again partnered with Books-A-Million to kick off its Superhero Month festivities and its “The Power of Children’s” campaign, recognizing patients and staff as real-life superheroes while raising awareness of Children’s impact statewide. Window washers dressed as Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man and Superman scaled down the Russell Building as patients and families watched from the waiting area on every floor. Children’s was among the first U.S. hospitals to dress its window cleaners as superheroes, bringing smiles to both kids and adults alike.

Celebrity Visits

Every now and then, a famous face or two stops by Children’s to visit our patients. In 2016, musicians, athletes and public figures brought smiles to many faces, among them singer-songwriter Jason Mraz. Mraz entertained a group of patients before putting on a private concert for patient and Mraz superfan Kayla Garraway, who was unable to leave her room for Mraz’s first performance. Mraz’s visit was made possible by Iron City Birmingham’s Artists Care program, which offers every artist who performs at Iron City an opportunity to visit Children’s or play for patients in the hospital. Other celebrity visits included NFL quarterback Jameis Winston, the USA Wheelchair Rugby Team and the University of South Carolina and University of South Florida football teams.

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Joint Commission Accreditation

The Joint Commission’s triennial review of Children’s in June was an outstanding success. The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Surveyors specializing in behavioral health, life safety, nursing, physicians and administration conducted the review over four days, and were impressed with our staff’s engagement at every level. Surveyors also noted 13 requirements for improvement (RFIs), which were corrected and submitted to The Joint Commission to show sustainability.

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Employee Recognition

The 2016 Employee Service Awards Banquet in October drew record attendance, with more than 700 guests. The banquet honors those who reach five-year milestones in their Children’s careers. Lucy Pierce, Geni Smith and Nancy Wright each celebrated their 45-year anniversary and Merilynne Scogin celebrated her 50-year anniversary.

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Trauma Center 30th Anniversary

Children’s Trauma Center celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016. As the only freestanding state-designated Level 1 trauma center in Alabama, we are part of the Alabama Trauma System that allows first responders to activate the appropriate resources and transport mechanisms needed to expedite transfer of the patient to Children’s.

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National Exposure

Children’s continued to broaden its national reach in 2016, as we participated in prestigious medical conferences, earned recognition for our programs and services and continued to tell our story via our biannual magazine, Inside Pediatrics, which entered its second year of publication.

Pediatric Academic Societies

For the fourth consecutive year, Children’s and UAB Medicine-Pediatrics sponsored a co-branded booth at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Baltimore. The April gathering is the largest and most prestigious meeting dedicated to pediatric research and education in the world. Children’s and UAB logos were prominently displayed on the annual meeting’s Pocket Guide, which was distributed to more than 8,000 attendees and featured on the meeting’s smartphone application.

U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report named Children’s among the best children’s hospitals in the nation for the seventh consecutive year. Eight of our pediatric specialty services were ranked among the top 50 in the U.S. Eight of Children’s pediatric specialty services – cardiology/heart surgery, diabetes/endocrinology, gastroenterology/GI surgery, neonatology, nephrology, neurology/neurosurgery, pulmonology and urology – were ranked among the top 50 in the U.S. in the magazine’s 2016-17 Best Children’s Hospital rankings. Children’s is the only pediatric facility in the state of Alabama to have been ranked and one of just 36 hospitals with eight or more specialties on the list of more than 180 hospitals that were surveyed.


Children’s once again sponsored the popular Relaxation Station at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in October in San Francisco. Our exhibitor booth highlighted our Concussion Program, represented by David Bernard, M.D., and Laura Dreer, Ph.D., of the Children’s Concussion Task force.

Inside Pediatrics

In its second year of publication, Inside Pediatrics magazine continues to tell the stories of Children’s staff to pediatric experts nationwide. Our 2016 issues featured our Concussion Clinic, Global Surgery Program, Adolescent Medicine Center, Dr. Alan Percy’s work with Rett Syndrome and a profile on Dr. Jerry Oakes.

Awards & Recognitions

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Children’s physicians are among the best in pediatric health care, with knowledge, skills and compassion that set us apart. In 2016, many of those doctors were recognized by their peers and others for excellence in their work. The following are just a few examples of those accolades:

Namasivayam Ambalavanan, M.D., Neonatology, was selected to serve on the NeoPREP Planning Committee Team sponsored by the Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Elizabeth Beierle, M.D., Surgery is the first holder of the Charles D. McCrary Endowed Chair in Pediatric Surgery.  

Smita Bhatia, M.D., MPH, Hematology and Oncology, was invited to participate in the National Cancer Institute and Blue Ribbon Panel’s Working Group on Pediatric Cancer. Bhatia advised the institute and

Mike Chen, M.D., was named Chief of Surgery at Children’s.

Randy Cron, M.D., Rheumatology, was selected by the Rheumatology Research Foundation to serve on their 2017 Scientific Advisory Board. Cron also was nominated to serve on the Content Development Team for the American Board of Pediatrics.

Robert J. Dabal, M.D., was named Chief of Pediatric Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children’s.

Daniel I. Feig, M.D., Nephrology, is the first holder of the Margaret M. Porter Endowed Chair in Pediatric Nephrology.

David W. Kimberlin, M.D., Infectious Diseases, was awarded the Ronald McDonald House Charities 2016 Medical Award of Excellence for his work in the treatment, control and eradication of infectious diseases affecting children.

Stephenie Wallace, M.D., FAAP, Adolescent Medicine, was appointed to the AAP Committee on Adolescence.

Richard Whitley, M.D., Infectious Diseases, was named chair of the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, a federal advisory committee that provides recommendations to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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As part of Children’s annual National Nurses Week celebration, our own Nursing Excellence Awards were presented. The 2016 honorees are Denise Amero, John Runyans, II, Casey Rae Jacobs, Jennifer Thomas, Stephanie Lenz-Norman, Amanda Hammon, Emily Northington, Kelsey Turner, Cynthia Rogers and Christine Evans.

Twelve nurses were honored at B-Metro Magazine’s annual Excellence in Nursing Awards ceremony. The 2016 honorees are Denise Amero, Christine Evans, Amanda Hammon, Casey Rae Jacobs, Stephanie Lenz-Norman, Emily Northington, Cynthia Rogers, John Runyans III, Belinda Russell, Jennifer Thomas, Kelsey Turner and Jeremy Varden.

Each month, Children’s honors a nurse with The DAISY Award. Nurses are nominated by family members of patients. Honorees personify Children’s remarkable patient experience and demonstrate excellence by serving as a role model for the nursing profession, demonstrating a caring attitude in all situations, communicating with compassion, using words the patient and family understand and making a significant difference in the life of a patient. Recipients of The DAISY Award in 2016 include Jeremy Varden, Hannah Winters, Alisha Thacker, Amy Davis, Vickie Kanute, Cory Reese, Bailey Brown, Haley Hudson, Vickie Reid, Alecia Spurlock, Nina Jackson and Sarah “Katie” Thornbury.

Primary Care

John Cortopassi, M.D., of Greenvale Pediatrics - Hoover, was voted “Best Pediatrician” in the Hoover Sun newspaper’s Best of Hoover awards for the second consecutive year. The awards recognize only one person or entity in each category. Cortopassi also was voted Birmingham Magazine’s Best Pediatrician in the 2016 Best of Birmingham Awards. Brian Dudgeon, M.D., also of Greenvale Hoover, was a finalist in the same category. Cortopassi and Dudgeon were among the honorees celebrated at the Best of Birmingham Awards Party at The Club.

In addition to celebrating its 20th anniversary as part of Children’s of Alabama in 2016, Pediatrics East achieved the top-ranking Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) recertification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Vestavia Pediatrics earned Level 3 certification for the first time, and Greenvale Pediatrics locations in Alabaster, Brook Highland and Hoover earned Level 2 recertification. PCMH certification is the most widely-used way to transform primary care practices into medical homes. Practices that are recognized emphasize care coordination and communication.

Hospital Programs and Services

Children’s celebrated its 100th organ transplant – a heart transplant – in 2016. The Pediatric Transplant Center opened in March 2013. Prior to the center’s opening, children received pre- and post-transplant care at Children’s with transplantation performed at UAB. The center’s opening fulfilled a longtime vision to house the full complement of pediatric transplant and related services under one roof for the benefit of children in Alabama and throughout the Southeast region.

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Children’s was recognized by the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) with a Pediatric Quality Award for waste reduction and improved efficiency. The pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and orthopedic group worked together to standardize care for adolescent spinal fusion patients. The new processes give families an opportunity to participate in care and understand expectations prior to PICU admission. The results were shorter hospital stays for these patients and their families as well as a cost savings of more than $800,000.