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Chattanooga makes $1 million contribution to Children's Hospital at Erlanger

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Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke announced a major capital contribution of $1 million from the City of Chattanooga to aid in the construction of the new Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, one of the nation’s elite academic pediatric medical centers.

The City will commit these funds in honor of the children and families cared for by the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger after the Woodmore Elementary School bus tragedy on Nov. 21, 2016 according to a news release.

“Our city and region need a facility to match the medical care children receive at Erlanger and with this investment, we can ensure the highest level of care for future generations of Chattanoogans,” said Mayor Berke.

“The doctors, nurses, and staff of the Children’s Hospital at Erlanger provide the utmost care and compassion to the patients and families they serve. This was never clearer than during the days after the Woodmore bus tragedy, with the care provided to the children and families at the Pediatric ICU,” said Berke. “I was inspired to see these medical professionals at work, as it was truly a reflection of the talent and heart of this hospital.”

Berke made the announcement Thursday at Erlanger. The City will commit a total of $1 million over the next four years toward construction of the new facility. In addition, the City will work with representatives of the hospital and the Woodmore families to determine the most appropriate way to recognize the children and families impacted by the Woodmore bus tragedy.

“We were all affected by the horrific events of November 21, as councilpersons, parents, and community members -- and we felt there must be something more we can do. The council is pleased to announce this contribution today, which will increase the health and vitality of Chattanooga by ensuring our community’s children get the care they need,” said Council Chairman Moses Freeman. “This is just one more opportunity for the City of Chattanooga, both the Administration and City Council, to show that it cares for all of its children.”

At Thursday’s announcement, Berke described arriving to visit with families devastated by the Woodmore bus crash. During those visits, he explained, he was inspired by the care, compassion and dedication of Erlanger staff. This served as an important reminder of why having a quality children’s hospital in Chattanooga is vital to the health, success, and prosperity of our region -- both in moments of terrible crisis as well as during the day-to-day struggles of a child with medical needs.

“Today the City of Chattanooga is responding to the call for action to create a new children’s hospital for this region. Mayor Berke has seen first-hand, the vital role Children’s Hospital at Erlanger plays in our community. We would like to thank him for his leadership during the Woodmore bus tragedy,” said Don Mueller, CEO of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. “On multiple occasions he came here to check on the families, the patients and our staff. Our hope is that today’s announcement will spur on additional support from our community. Our region deserves a children’s hospital that matches the level of world class medical care we provide. We are thankful to the city for this support and for recognizing the vital role our Children’s Hospital plays in our community.”

About three of four children in Tennessee are seen at non-children’s emergency facilities. Of children who needed care in 2012, only 23 percent were seen at a comprehensive regional pediatric center, like Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, which is one of only four in the state. The City’s contribution is intended to help provide the highest care for our youngest citizens in Chattanooga and will also memorialize the Woodmore victims.

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