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BIRMINGHAM (Mar. 23, 2012) – The existing patient bed tower of the Children’s of Alabama pediatric hospital was dedicated to and named in memory of Dr. Jim Dearth, the late hematologist-oncologist who served as Children’s chief executive officer for more than two decades. The  dedication took place today during a special gathering of staff, board members and supporters of the 100-year-old organization.

From Left to Right: Tucker Dearth, Joanne Dearth, Anna Wesley, Robin Soran, Jackson Wesley and Tracy Wesley

Dearth’s widow Joanne of Cary, North Carolina, was present for the occasion, along with daughters Robin Soran and husband Dave of Menlo Park, California, Tracy Wesley with husband Mike of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and son Tucker Dearth of London. The Soran and Wesley children also attended the tribute to their grandfather.

During Dearth’s tenure as CEO, Children’s grew from a 160-bed community hospital to become the 10th busiest pediatric medical center in the United States with a statewide network of primary care, specialty and outpatient surgery offices and clinics and has earned national recognition for the excellence of many of its programs and services. He contributed to the overall growth and quality of pediatric healthcare across the nation through his work as board president of the Child Health Corp. of America, president and board member of Children's Miracle Network and president and board member of the National Assn. of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions.

Dearth also helped found Voices for Alabama's Children, a state advocacy group that serves as an important resource of information, program and demographics for businesses, state agencies and other organizations concerned with the well-being of children. He retired from Children’s in 2007 and died unexpectedly in 2009 while sailing off the coast of North Carolina.

As part of the Children’s expansion project that includes a 750,000-square-feet addition set to open in June, the Dearth Tower is currently being remodeled. Its new design will include a playful transportation theme that reflects Dearth’s personal interest in cars, trucks and boats. Dearth shared a passion for cars with his father, who owned an automotive dealership in Wisconsin. The doctor was also an accomplished sailor who treasured the hours he spent aboard his sailboat Godspeed.

Children’s of Alabama has provided specialized medical care for ill and injured children across the state and throughout the southeastern U.S. since 1911. It is the only hospital in Alabama dedicated solely to the care and treatment of children. Ten of its divisions – pulmonology, neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, neonatology, cancer, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and nephrology—were recently ranked among the best children’s hospital programs in the nation by US News & World Report. Children’s is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet-designated hospital for excellence in nursing care. It is a private, not-for-profit hospital that serves as the primary site of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) pediatric medicine, surgery, research and residency programs. Last year, patients made more than 634,000 outpatient and nearly 14,000 inpatient visits to Children’s. More information is available at