Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental) launched its 10th annual holiday campaign, pledging a collective $75,000 in donations to the seven children’s hospitals across the state. The funding will be directed in part based on public input, and Tennesseans are invited to select the children’s hospital close to their home or their heart to receive additional dollars from Delta Dental online.
This year’s campaign highlights the critical role that neonatal intensive care units, often referred to as NICUs, play in supporting families through an incredibly challenging time. Tennessee has the 10th highest pre-term birth rate in the country; in 2021, one in nine babies born in the state was pre-term.
Michael Vincent was one of them. Baby Mike was born at 28 weeks and weighed just over 1 pound. He spent 84 days in the NICU at Ayers Children’s Medical Center in Jackson, Tenn. His mother, Breion Douglas Vincent, is grateful for both the care he received and the ability to access that care so close to home.
“With him being there so long, I was just grateful that he was literally fifteen minutes away. If anything happened, I had access to him instead of me having to travel all the way to Memphis,” Vincent said. “I honestly think I would have quit my job if I had to go to Memphis because I would have said, ‘You know what, I have to be close to my baby.’”
The NICU at Ayers is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year; learn more about the Vincent family’s story here.
Across the state, NICUs are expanding to meet the growing needs of their respective regions so that more families like the Vincents can access the critical care they need close to home. In Memphis, Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is undergoing an expansion that will add an additional 14 NICU beds to its existing 60-bed unit, which operates near capacity. The NICU at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is now one of the largest in the country following its 2020 expansion. In east Tennessee, the NICUs at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville and at Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City together care for nearly 2,000 babies each year.
Click here to view the holiday card and select a children’s hospital to receive additional funding from Delta Dental by December 26.
“Being able to access high-quality health care – especially for your child – close to home is so important, and we are always happy to highlight the terrific work happening at Ayers and children’s hospitals across the state,” said Dr. Phil Wenk, CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee. “Giving back is a huge priority for us at Delta Dental, and this campaign is one of my favorite things we do – who doesn’t love a little friendly competition for a good cause?”
For the last two years in a row, Ayers Children’s Hospital has received the most support in the holiday campaign. Ayers received approximately 40% of the selections for the past two years, even as the overall participation in the campaign doubled.
“We were delighted to be a bigger part of the campaign this year,” said Frank McMeen, president of the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation. “Our NICU nurses had fun helping us create the art and we’re proud to help bring awareness to these critical community resources that are available statewide.”
To make your selection in the holiday campaign, visit DeltaDentalTN.com/holiday by December 26.
To learn more about Delta Dental’s philanthropic work across Tennessee, visit the Smile180 Foundation website.
About Delta Dental of Tennessee
Delta Dental of Tennessee is the state’s largest independent dental benefits carrier with nearly 1.4 million lives covered. As part of the Delta Dental Plans Association, Delta Dental of Tennessee members have access to the largest dental network in the nation with more than 154,000 providers serving more than 437,000 locations.
With the simple mission of ensuring healthy smiles, Delta Dental of Tennessee works hard to help members of the communities it serves. Along with its corporate foundation, Smile180, Delta Dental of Tennessee donated more than $5.4 million in funding and in-kind services to over 130 organizations in 2021.