This Saturday morning I received a surprising and wonderfully pleasant wake up call. Someone was calling me to the starting line. People were cheering. For a moment, I thought I was dreaming. Finally, the early morning head fog cleared and I could tell that someone with a bull horn was organizing things on the street below.
I walked to our front room and opened the floor to ceiling plantation shutters overlooking lower East Bay Street. Hanging out our windows and gazing down East Bay, it was startling to see thousands of people packing the street for as far as I could see. It turns out that the Charleston annual 5K Reindeer Run starts at my front door.
Diane, who sleeps much more lightly than I do, had been up for hours watching the police and fire departments blocking streets, setting up crowd control barriers and delivering port-a-potties. The crowd started building about 8 a.m.and the good feelings could be felt rising from the street like the August heat in Charleston radiates off the asphalt.
The first 15 runners had a cumulative body fat of about 1% and wore non-seasonal running gear. The next twenty or thirty were all children and then came the rest of Charleston.There were dozens of Santas, Elves, polar bears, candy canes, Swiss Miss maidens, and reindeer galore. My favorite was a Santa running in his bright red sleigh Fred Flintstone-style while being pulled by eight very sleek prancing reindeer.
We all felt sorry for the poor dogs shamed by being dressed in ugly Christmas sweaters and wearing plastic antler headbands. We all counted down the last ten seconds before the horn sounded to start the race. We all cheered the return the men and women without body fat eight minutes later.There were thousands of smiling faces.
The only negative note was the public address reminder every two or three minutes that all proceeds from the Reindeer Run would go to support the fabulous new Shawn Jenkins Children Hospital.
“The campaign for the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital began in July 2014 to raise funds for a new healthcare facility here in Charleston, SC. The new hospital will provide an environment that will support excellence in pediatric and family care, as well as teaching and research. The hospital will be housed at the corner of Calhoun and Courtney Streets downtown Charleston.It will house many of the only departments for children’s healthcare in the state of South Carolina, such as the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center. No child, rich or poor, is denied the finest care available, and when the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital is built, they will be in a world class facility to receive that care.”
That sounds wonderful and exciting. How could it be a sour note? Well, it’s both personal and professional. I’m an Obstetrician-Gynecologist who works at MUSC and the name of the new facility, at the corner of Calhoun and Courtney, is actually the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavillion. The Women’s Pavillion is every bit as important and every bit as vital to the women of the Low Country as is the Children’s Hospital.
The children of Pearl Tourville donated ten million dollars to honor their MOTHER and name the new Women’s Pavillion after her. Why does she not get any love? Why isn’t the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavillion also a beneficiary of the 2016 Reindeer Run?
After being packed into cramped facilities of the original MUSC Hospital forever, the future of our Ob-Gyn Department is the new Women’s Pavillion. At other institutions, the opening of a new Women’s Hospital has been accompanied by large increases in obstetrical patient volume. It is painful to discuss dollars and cents, but increasing OB volume increases departmental income. Increased departmental income is the tide that rises all boats. More income to support research, recruit great faculty, develop new programs and raise salaries.
For all these reasons and more, we have been asking since July 2014 when marketing would acknowledge the coming of a fabulous new Women’s Pavillion along with the new Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. At first we were told that marketing wanted to wait until the hospital had procured a naming donor for the Women’s Pavillion. The we were told that the donor was obtained but wanted to remained secret. That seemed curious, but okay. Then the Tourville family donation was revealed, yet things remain hush-hush.
A recent conversation about the lack of marketing for the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavillion was overheard by the nursing director of the Advanced Fetal Care Center (a signature service to be offered by the new cutting edge hospital). Surprised, she asked with genuine interest, if MUSC was planning to build a new Women’s Health Care facility. Res Ipsa Loquitur.
Most recently, we were told that we had two new marketing people assigned to Ob-Gyn and that Women’s Services had been move up to “Tier 1” marketing status. If that is true, would it have been so hard to add “and the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavillion” to the pre-printed text that was repeatedly read by the public address announcer at the Reindeer Run?
To my eye, there were somewhere between five and ten thousand reproductive age, reproductive capable, reproductive inclined and, possibly later today, reproductive engaged people at the Reindeer Run. People who might be interested to know that there is going to be new, beautiful, world-class, family-centered, tertiary level care facility with views of the Ashley River coming soon to Charleston which would be called the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavillion.
“That sounds like the place for me.”
In my opinion, one more huge missed opportunity to market the coming of a major new advance in women’s health care for Charleston and the surrounding region. An opportunity to market which would have cost nothing other than the willingness to do it.
Since the Ob-Gyn department has been trying to convince the hospital of the wisdom of a state of the art Women’s Hospital for more than thirty years, I’ve picked Bruce Springsteen’s “Working on a Dream” as the appropriate song to accompany this blog.
I am a Professor and Maas Chair for Reproductive Sciences at MUSC and have worked at MUSC since 1980. However, the opinions voiced in the above blog are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers.