Bill Schmidt, the avuncular medical director of the Greenville Health System Children’s Hospital, has been growing the Children’s Hospital for nearly 25 years, developing it from a dream to an 185-physician pediatric powerhouse that provides life-saving care to some of the sickest children in a three-state area.
Now, he, wife Jean and their children have made a $1 million gift to create the Children’s Hospital Seed Fund for Advanced Pediatrics, an endowment that will support what they call “big-leap-forward” pediatric innovations.
“Our vision for this fund is nothing less than making Children’s Hospital a leader in advanced pediatric care for the entire Southeast,” said Dr. Schmidt. “Greenville has become a leader in the Southeast in so many ways – why should the pediatric front be any different?”
Monday’s surprise announcement drew cheers and applause from the crowd of physicians, employees and community members gathered in the Children’s Hospital lobby. The Schmidts also received their own surprise when told their gift had already been the catalyst for an anonymous $1 million match from a Greenville family who was “proud of your legacy gift and deeply appreciative to you … for your dedicated leadership in the last quarter century building the GHS Children’s Hospital into a beacon of hope for children needing the hospital’s services.”
“We are moved beyond words,” said Dr. Schmidt.
“Our prayer with this gift was to plant the first seed in an ever-enlarging and dynamic field,” said Mrs. Schmidt. “We wanted others to come along with us in the planting, to say ‘You know what, I want to be part of that, too. I want to invest in kids.’ Whether it’s $2 or $2 million, we hoped others will plant their own seeds in the fund, seeds for future generations to add to and cultivate and water with the same intentions.”
“We cannot tell you how touched we are by this initial response – and how much we hope that others in the community or GHS will also help us move forward,” she said.
Said GHS CEO and President Mike Riordan, “For many people – especially those gathered here today – Bill Schmidt is synonymous with Children’s Hospital. What you may not know, however, is that Dr. Schmidt has been a long-time champion of children across the entire region, helping develop programs and partnerships with hospitals statewide in order to provide children and families the best care possible. He’s also worked hard to improve children’s access to care statewide. This kind of cooperative spirit is the heart and soul of the Schmidt family gift and today’s matching pledge – and what they’re asking all of us to help do. There’s no doubt in any of our minds that what we do here can make a tremendous impact beyond ourselves.”
Decisions on how the money will specifically be used will be decided as new breakthroughs occur and new leading-edge technologies come available.
“Medicine is literally transforming around us, and I can tell you from firsthand experience the impact those breakthroughs have had on children,” said Dr. Schmidt, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist who has seen survival rates for some cancers improve from 20 percent to now more than 90 percent. “And it’s not just cancer – we’re seeing huge breakthroughs in many fields. We don’t want to invest in the status quo with the Seed Fund; we want to invest in what comes next. We want our Children’s Hospital to be ready for that next transformative leap.”
Added Mrs. Schmidt, “For us – and we think many others – our real significance in life is found through investing in a purpose larger than ourselves so that the meaning of our lives transcends our personal boundaries and survives long after we ourselves are forgotten. We want to join hands with the many, many folks today and in the future who care about kids and want them to have the most advanced health care available.”
When Dr. Schmidt was recruited to GHS in 1990 to develop the Upstate’s first Children’s Hospital, GHS had a small number of general pediatricians and a handful of specialists. Today, GHS Children’s Hospital has 185 primary and specialty physicians and features nearly 40 pediatric specialties, with its general pediatricians providing top primary care while its specialists address more complex issues. Children’s Hospital and its practices had nearly 500,000 visits from infants, children and adolescents this year alone.
The Upstate’s only pediatric hospital recognized by the national Children’s Hospital Association, GHS Children’s Hospital offers leading-edge therapies while also promoting patient- and family-centered care that personalizes, humanizes and demystifies the healthcare experience.
Among its many specialty units and programs are the state’s first 24-hour pediatric ER staffed entirely by pediatric specialists; the Bryan Neonatal Intensive Care Unit which is the state’s largest NICU with approximately 80 beds; the pediatric intensive care unit, the BI-LO Charities Children’s Cancer Center and the Upstate’s only neuro-oncology program; a nationally recognized gastroenterology program and the Gardner Family Center for Developing Minds, a developmental-behavioral pediatrics center that features one of the most advanced autism programs in the nation.
For more information on the Children’s Hospital Seed Fund for Advanced Pediatrics, visit https://www.ghsgiving.org/seed.php.
Click here to watch the announcement.