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Children's Hospital Over the Years in Pensacola


After its dedication and blessing ceremony last month, the new Studer Family Children’s Hospital is beginning to open its doors to current and future patients. Dr. Jimmy Jones is a co-founder of the original Children’s Hospital in Pensacola 50 years ago. After the ceremony, he sat down with WUWF’s Dave Dunwoody.

DD-You have been here almost since day one in the mid-1960s; what are your thoughts on this new facility?

JJ-It’s wonderful, as everybody has said; it is state-of-the-art and the new thing in children’s care is focused on the family. The rooms are ready for people – the families – to stay overnight, as they have been in some other areas. But the other thing is, they have a Ronald McDonald House in this building for families to stay overnight, while their child is mending, shall we say.  It has – just like a Ronald McDonald House – a kitchen, refrigerator, laundry et cetera, et cetera. So that really emphasizes the focus on the family unit. The new playground has a dog run for families’ pets [laughs]. So, it’s really great.

DD-Contrast this, what we’re seeing today in this hospital, to when you first came here from Boston and set up the Children’s Hospital. To say it’s like night and day I guess would be the understatement of the year.

JJ-You’re right, it’s like night and day. The first hospital was a nursing dorm and classroom. The upper two floors were dorms with a built-in desk and chair – no room for families. The classroom – first floor – was our intensive care unit. And then the child was sometime whisked away out of sight, out of mind of the parents. And nowadays, the parent is actively involved in their care.  When they’re having a painful procedure like an IV or something, the mother or father can hold the child – which his comforting to the child. It’s in sharp contrast to what it used to be.

DD-On the technical side, you pioneered the scaling-down of medical instruments to fit children. I would imagine [during] the first days that was very tough trying to use adult-size instruments. Talk a little bit about the advancements and innovations between then and now when it comes to pediatric treatment.

JJ-As a surgeon, the biggest advancement here is in laparoscopic, but that happens mostly in older kids and adults. The advancements in the neonatal care has been advancements in techniques, really. Instrumentation has been there from the larger hospitals. When I came here they said, ‘give us your instrument list.’ I said, ‘what’s that?’ You hold out your hand at Boston Children’s [Hospital] and they put the right instrument in it. So I had to frantically call up there and said, ‘send me your instruments list!’ But that was new techniques and state-of-the-are at that time up to this hospital.

DD-And as a result, more kids are surviving traumatic illnesses and injuries that maybe 20-30 years ago they wouldn’t have.

JJ-Oh, absolutely. The other thing that’s new that’s important in this new hospital is the diagnostic care. For example, they have a new CT scan that can take a total body scan in like 15 minutes, when you used to take about an hour or so, I’m not really sure. You had to sedate the patient so they’ll hold still long enough. It’s hard to get a kid to stay still for five minutes [laughing], much less 15. But it helps that way, it really does.

DD-Final thoughts?

JJ-It’s wonderful, it’s great to be here, and it’s great for the kids of the area. It’s just really super. As they said out there [during the ceremony], this town is said to have not enough people to support a children’s hospital. But we do. And that is really great.