A Legacy of Caring: The Classic’s contribution to Mississippi’s Batson Children’s Hospital, and non-profit organizations throughout the state.
Since 1968, the PGA Tour has brought world-class professional golf to the “Magnolia State.” The tournament we now know as The True South Classic, was originally called the Magnolia Classic and was played in Hattiesburg. Although it has borne other names since those early years, most recently the Viking Classic, today The True South Classic is played in Madison at the Annandale Golf Club. This year the tournament will be held July 16 – 22.
Now in its 44th year, The Classic has seen many changes, from different names, to different locations, and ever changing generations of professional golfers on the Tour. But throughout its history one thing has remained constant…proceeds from the tournament (Century Club/PGA Tour) and its “Birdies for Charity” program have benefited non-profit organizations and healthcare institutions throughout the state of Mississippi – with over $6.8 million donated. And, for the past 6 years, Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson, the only pediatric hospital in the state, has been The Classic’s primary benefactor, through its contributions to Friends of Children’s Hospital. In fact, since 2007, the tournament has donated more than $440,000 to Friends.
“Friends of Children’s Hospital is an outstanding group of community leaders who have been strong partners in our growth and development over many years,” notes Children’s Hospital CEO, Guy Giesecke. “Through their association with the golf tournament, they have been able to provide much needed funding for the hospital that has made a dramatic difference for our patients.”
At a time when healthcare institutions everywhere are stripping budgets to the bare bones and struggling to stay afloat financially, hospitals rarely can afford expenditures that are not directly related to patient care, such as amenities to improve the patient’s hospital experience. But, the generous gift of funding from Mississippi’s only PGA tournament has allowed Batson Children’s Hospital to do something very special that touches every patient who is admitted to the hospital. The funds have been used to purchase and install a LodgeNet® patient education/entertainment video on-demand system with new flat screen TVs in every patient’s room. If you are familiar with on-demand movies in upscale hotels, this is the same kind of system, except it is entirely free to the patient. LodgeNet® offers advanced applications for both entertainment (with movies and games on demand), and medical educational videos designed specifically for individual patients and their parents. At the time it was purchased, Batson’s on-demand system was the most advanced of its kind to be offered at any children’s hospital in the southeast. Since it was installed last year, St. Jude Children’s Hospital has purchased a very similar system.
According to Michelle Revord, Director of Pediatric Education Services in the hospital’s Child Life Department, the LodgeNet® system has dramatically enhanced the hospital experience for patients and their family members by giving them a way to relax and take their minds off the reason they are in the hospital.
“A movie or game can take a child (and their parents) to a different place, away from the pain, away from the homesickness or fear, where they can completely immerse themselves and forget where they are for a little while,” explains Revord. “Patients have access to 30 movies that are changed out quarterly. The movie listings are the most recent releases and are categorized as Action/Thriller, Romance, Comedy, etc. so the patients can view by title or category to choose. Additionally, we have access to 12 titles of on-demand television including “Blues Clues,” “Adventures of Jimmy Neutron,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” and “Go Diego Go.” Each quarter we’re provided with four to six episodes within each of the television series. We also have 21video games that range in difficulty to meet the needs of patients all ages.”
Children’s Hospital patients access their choices by the remote, which is also the nurse call system. They can change channels, adjust the volume, choose movies or games from the menu or watch regular TV, which probably provides close to 60 different channels.
“Another great feature that is provided through our electronic admission/discharge/transfer (ADT) system is just a little thing but it means a lot,” Revord adds. “When a patient is admitted to a room the welcome screen on their TV shows: “Welcome to Batson” along with their name. The kids love this special touch and are so excited to see their name on the screen. If by chance a child is transferred to another room, their information follows them and pauses their movie. So once they get to the new room, they can begin watching where they left off. They can pause, back up and go forward within the movies. If they have to go to a procedure, they can simply pause and come back to the movie when they return.”
The effect of having access to movies and games to fill the long hours while a child is in the hospital is something that is hard to measure, but is none-the-less undeniably positive. It can be seen on the faces of the younger patients as they delight in a favorite animated movie or older children and teens as they watch an engaging drama or action adventure story or play a video game. It also is written on the faces of the parents who can sit and enjoy a movie with their child, and feel a return to some sense of normalcy for a while… just parents and kids on movie night.
At Children’s Hospital, there is a statement that you will hear echoed throughout the halls…“It takes more than medicine to heal a child.” Providing comfort and entertainment, as well as world-class medicine, is part of the mission of Batson Children’s Hospital. The contributions provided by the True South Classic have made it possible for the hospital to do both.
In addition to the direct funding through Friends of Children’s Hospital, The Classic has also assisted the hospital by helping to build the relationship with Eli Manning and the Manning family. These relationships have been crucial to making possible the Eli Manning Children’s Clinics and new the new Colonel Harland Sander’s Children’s Emergency Department and Selby and Richard McRae Children’s Trauma Unit, the state’s only Level I pediatric emergency room and trauma center.
Far beyond what the True South Classic has been able to help Batson Children’s Hospital accomplish, the tournament’s charitable giving has benefited non-profit organizations in every part of the state. In the past four years alone, more than $2,150,986 has been provided in total charitable giving, including contributions to Batson Children’s Hospital, to fund hundreds of programs and services that are offered at the community level. The positive impact the tournament has had on the lives of Mississippians it has helped through its generosity definitely reaches statewide and is truly remarkable.