The lucky number for The Women’s Board and Wolfson Children’s Hospital in 2016 was four  — and its multiples — as we celebrated our 40th annual Art & Antiques Show, completed the fourth of a five-year pledge to raise $4 million, and recognized our legacy of giving with $28 million, or four times $7 million, raised for Wolfson since our founding in 1973.

In 2015, with generous support from community businesses and individuals, Women’s Board initiatives raised more than $1.3 million, donated to the Surgery Center, other equipment and program needs at Wolfson, and endowments.  Combined with matching grants to the Albert H. Wilkinson Jr. Endowed Professorship and the Cavert Legacy Endowment, the total donated to Wolfson grew to more than $2.1 million!

The primary current $4 million funding pledge to create a Pediatric Surgery Center of Distinction will enable Wolfson Children’s Hospital to provide the most advanced surgical treatment and care to the children of our region. While Wolfson provides a full range of pediatric healthcare services from routine to the most complex, there are services at which Wolfson Children’s Hospital truly excels. These Centers of Distinction are staffed by highly skilled physician sub-specialists and equipped with the most advanced technology.

The backbone of an excellent children’s hospital is its pediatric general surgery program. The Pediatric Surgery Center will enable the most skilled surgical staff to work on enhancing surgical techniques using state-of-the art equipment including minimally invasive and robotic surgery, and also better meet the needs of pediatric trauma patients.

Half of the $4 million pledged will endow a professorship in pediatric surgery with the goal of hiring a physician who is both a remarkable academic and clinician to lead Wolfson’s research and academic pursuits. As evidence of its importance, the Baptist Health Foundation is matching every dollar raised for the endowment at 150 percent. When fully funded at $5 million, it is expected to generate $250,000 annually. The endowment will also be used to train the next generation of pediatric surgeons.

Michael Erhard, MD, Chairman of Children’s Surgical Services and Chief of Pediatric Urology at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, said the key to a successful pediatric healthcare future is to have the resources to develop new programs and to attract and retain surgeons who are innovative and willing to participate in the newest minimally invasive techniques.

“We need to be out there leading the way in developing techniques that will help us take care of children,” he said.

As part of the Pediatric Surgery Center, Wolfson is strengthening its services for children with trauma injuries through expanded training of trauma staff, enhanced equipment and development of a dedicated surgical trauma room.

In addition to the annual contribution to our funding target, The Women’s Board also funds immediate needs identified by Wolfson President Michael Aubin. This year, $283,700 went toward the purchase of a new ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine. This life-sustaining machine is used for infants and children suffering from cardiac or pulmonary failure and who without ECMO would surely die. Another $69,300 was donated for 11 external pacemakers, used to control heart rhythm issues in the operating room and the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. We also regularly commit funds to our various endowments.

For more than 40 years, The Women’s Board has been unwavering in its mission to raise funds and awareness for Wolfson Children’s Hospital, which has grown into one of the best pediatric facilities in the world. Past funding targets have included the Adolescent Mental Health Facility, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Redesign and the Kids Kare Transport Program.

Wolfson is the only children’s hospital between Orlando and Atlanta. Since 2013, Wolfson has opened satellite centers in Daytona Beach, Lake City, Clay County, Brunswick, and most recently Tallahassee.

Though a private hospital, Wolfson never turns any child away, regardless of ability to pay. As a result, Wolfson provides more than $36 million in uncompensated care annually.

The Women’s Board relies on the generous support of local businesses and individuals to help make sure Wolfson has the resources it needs to care for all the children in our community. Many thanks for your past support as we look forward to your continued partnership for years to come.

We’ve only just begun!