Continuing its legacy of support of the University, the Charles S. Mott Foundation announced Friday a gift of $25 million to the University Health System to support the construction of a new home for Mott.

This contribution is one of the foundation’s largest donations in its nearly 80-year history, said William White, president and chief executive officer of the Mott Foundation. The foundation donated $6.5 million to help build Mott in 1964.

“This gift is a major step forward in our fundraising campaign,” said Robert Kelch, executive vice president for medical affairs. “It is a shot in the arm for the hospital, the University and the (treatment) of children in Michigan.”

Kelch said that, with the gift and other fundraising activities, the Mott campaign has raised nearly $35 million of its goal of $50 million in private donations for the replacement of Mott.

On April 21, the health system will present its plans for the new facility and its projected budget to the University Board of Regents for approval. If approved, design of the new hospital will begin, followed by construction of the facility. The new hospital would be completed no earlier than 2010, after which the current facility would most likely be used for less intensive treatment of adult patients, Kelch said. He added that the site of the new hospital will not be announced until the regents approve the plans.

Kelch said the new facility is needed because the way children are cared for has changed dramatically since the 1969 opening of Mott, and the space in the hospital has become inadequate.

“When I was a medical student here in 1965, I trained in the old University Hospital, and at that time, we had massive patient care wards, with no privacy and communal bathrooms,” Kelch said. “Today, we are treating at least four times as many children in the hospital and many more in outpatient care. Many of (these patients) are very susceptible to infectious diseases, which is why we need private rooms with new air purification systems to make sure that they aren’t exposed to anything in their fragile state.”

Kelch said larger operating rooms are also needed.

While it waits for the new facility, UMHS spokeswoman Krista Hopson said the hospital has begun scheduling surgeries on weekends because the existing facilities are inadequate for the current patient load. In October 2003, the regents approved the addition of an operating room, an MRI and the extension of the hospital’s after-surgery care unit. The improvements to the existing hospital — costing $10.7 million — will be completed by the end of this year, Hopson said.

“One of our biggest areas of growth is with surgery,” she said. “Surgical services have increased an average of 5 to 10 percent each year. (The improvements) will help ease one of the major areas where we are stretched tight. We are doing our best within space limitations.”

Hopson added that at this point, there are no additional projects in the works to address the space limitations.

“In the fiscal year 2004, more than 11,519 people were admitted at U-M, and in the first year that Mott opened, that number was 3,500,” Hopson said. “This gives a good idea of how much we’ve grown in terms of patient demand in the last 35 years. You can really understand why we need a new facility by looking at the numbers, and we are building it with the future in mind, with that room to grow.”

Kelch said that to reach the $50-million fundraising goal, UMHS will continue to hold special events, campaigns and meetings with individual donors over the next few years. Current fundraising ventures include the Mott wristband campaign, which has sold nearly half a million bands so far, and the football team’s second annual Carr’s Wash for Kids, which will take place in June.

“All the money will come from operations and reserves of the hospital or philanthropy, and we may borrow some money,” Kelch said, adding that no state funds will go toward the project.

White said that, when the health system divulged its intent to rebuild the children’s hospital about a year ago, it made it clear that the name of the hospital would remain the same regardless of whether the Mott Foundation chose to participate.

“That is a very classy and risky thing to say at the same time,” White said. “But in making our decision, again and again we ran into people whose lives have been changed by the hospital. C.S. Mott loved kids and particularly wanted to make sure kids had a healthy start in life. It was just natural for us to be part of it, and we are pleased to be able to help.”

Since its establishment in 1926, the Flint-based C.S. Mott Foundation has awarded more than $175 million in grants to support various projects at the University’s Flint and Ann Arbor campuses. In the late 1980s, a $2.4-million grant helped the University develop and implement a range of new health care services for women and children, including the Holden Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit.

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