NICU Physician Makes Estate Gift to Support Henry Ford’s Tiniest Patients

Throughout Sudhakar Ezhuthachan, M.D.’s long career at the Carls Foundation Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Henry Ford Health System, there have been many notable achievements: expanding the program from one Henry Ford hospital to four, bringing the highest-quality NICU care to Michigan and even partnering to help open a NICU in a small town in Ukraine. But still, the most important accomplishment from Dr. Ezhuthachan’s perspective is the impact he’s had on thousands of infants and families over more than three decades of service.

Recently, in gratitude for his patients and colleagues, Dr. Ezhuthachan, who is the Division Head of Neonatology at Henry Ford Health System, decided to give back to the department he helped grow by making a gift in his will to the NICU.

Dr. Ezhuthachan joined Henry Ford Health System in 1983 and had been in his position for only a year when his boss resigned, and Dr. Ezhuthachan was asked to step up as director. He agreed, and three years later, the NICU was expanding, serving a greater number of premature and sick infants with each passing year. Dr. Ezhuthachan recognized a need to grow his team, recruiting two additional physicians, who themselves went on to become world-class medical providers and leaders.

Another of Dr. Ezhuthachan’s most important projects began in 1994, when Henry Ford Hospital partnered with a sister hospital in the former Soviet Union at the request of the United States government. For the next 12 years, Dr. Ezhuthachan, his colleague Christine Newman, N.P. and others helped this new hospital in Lviv, Ukraine build its patient care programs, including a level three NICU. This critical effort was recognized by the State Department under former President Bill Clinton and then First Lady, Hillary Clinton as a successful example of the hospital partnership program.

Later, as Henry Ford acquired Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital, Dr. Ezhuthachan and his team’s responsibilities continued to expand as they oversaw those operations. When the health system decided to build Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, his team helped determine its NICU’s specifications and served to manage that nursery too. Dr. Ezhuthachan also credits Christine Newman with building a nurse practitioner program from the ground up in 2003, ensuring that each NICU was staffed by talented, dedicated and compassionate team.

Today, across Henry Ford, more than 7,000 babies are delivered each year—600 of whom require tertiary care treatment in the NICU to give them the best chance at a healthy, happy start to life.

It is a mixture of pride and gratitude for his patients and career that inspired Dr. Ezhuthachan to give back to the Henry Ford NICU through his estate gift. He hopes his generosity will continue the amazing work of Henry Ford’s neonatologists—and make a difference for Henry Ford’s youngest patients.

“I hope that service is always at the forefront of one’s mind when one is at work here, ensuring that the care we give our patients is the very best at all times. I think if that principle is kept in place, if people follow the model I try to set, then we will always be proud of the care we provide,” he says.

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