A Children's Hospital for the 21st Century

A Children's Hospital for the 21st Century

Questions for Pat Warner, MPH ’77

Pat WarnerThe executive director of the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital talks about the challenges of treating kids.

What’s the toughest thing about running a children’s hospital?

Number one, finding the support for the resources we need to take care of not only the child but the child’s family—because children don’t come to us all by themselves. They’re part of a unit, and our reimbursement structure isn’t based on that. Families arrive here and don’t have housing and can’t pay for transportation. If you have a child who lives in the Upper Peninsula and has multiple chronic conditions, and we’re the only provider in the state, or one of only two, how do family members leave their jobs to come down here to be with their child? We consider it part of our responsibility to help those families.

Number two, our funding source is a medical/surgical funding source, but to take care of a child you need to take care of them as they continue to develop—their psychosocial, emotional, and play needs—which is different from the adult environment, and there’s not much funding in the current reimbursement structure for that.

What’s most gratifying?
The affirmation of life that children bring. They can be as sick as can be, and a child still sees the best in life, still plays, still has an unbelievable ability to rebound.

How has your SPH degree benefited you?
A graduate degree from SPH gives you the framework to think more comprehensively about how something’s going to operate, how you’re going to fund it, how you’re going to make those cost-benefit decisions, how this will impact the health of the community, and about what you’re doing to create future knowledge and train the future workforce.

You’re a grandmother now. Has that changed the way you think about your job?
It just fuels my passion for making sure that we are creating the best care possible for children.

A Hospital for the 21st Century

For the past 15 years, Pat Warner has overseen the day-to-day operations of a hospital U.S. News and World Report ranks among the nation’s finest for pediatric care. At the same time, she’s led the drive to build a new, $754-million C.S. Mott Children’s and Women’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. When it opens in 2011, the 1.1-million square-foot facility will feature the latest in health care technologies. In addition to UM faculty and staff members, hundreds of patients and families were involved at every stage of the project, from design to operational planning. “One of our guiding principles is that we want to give patients and their families as much control over their environment as possible,” Warner says.

Here’s some of what’s on offer at the new Mott:

  • Single rooms for every patient, to foster support and privacy for family units and help minimize the spread of infection
  • Flat screens in every room, with wireless access and remote keyboards, so that patients can watch movies, communicate with friends, maintain care pages, check schedules, and order food
  • New fetal diagnostics and intervention technologies
  • A dedicated pediatric emergency and urgent-care department
  • An open MRI machine that lets young children watch videos or movies and thus minimizes the need to sedate patients during procedures
  • An intraoperative MRI that allows doctors to obtain brain or spine images during surgical procedures
  • HEPA filtration throughout the entire in-patient hospital, to help prevent the spread of infection
  • À la carte dining
  • A two-story lobby with a Family Resource Center overlooking an outdoor garden park
  • Environmentally sustainable practices and materials, including a green roof, recycled rubber, and more efficient heating and ventilation systems.

Photos by Don Hammond and Steve Kuczma