Nursery dedicated in doctor's honor

Monday, June 3, 2002

Friends, relatives and former patients of Dr. Jesse Ramsey, a noted Cape Girardeau pediatrician, gathered Sunday to remember his contributions to children's health and to dedicate Southeast Missouri Hospital's new nursery and neonatal intensive care unit in his honor.

Ramsey's likeness peers from a large plaque in the hospital's obstetrics and gynecology center into the side-by-side nurseries, one with ailing infants and the other with rosy-cheeked babies ready to go home. His fellow doctors said he loved both kinds.

"Jesse was all about his love of people, mission, his dedication and his hope for the future," said Dr. Scott J. Weiner, pediatric hospitalist, during a speech before the plaque unveiling. "Sure, he was a dreamer, an idealist, but so is every kid."

Ramsey died Feb. 23, 2000, due to a heart attack. He was 53.

The nurseries are part of a $4.3 million redesign of Southeast's Elrod Obstetrics and Gynecology Center. On June 9, the hospital will hold an open house for all the mothers who gave birth during the redesign, which took from December 2000 to May 2002.

Parents came from Texas

Ramsey's parents, Ray and Maxine Ramsey, traveled from Fort Worth, Texas, for the event. Maxine Ramsey said her son showed a love for others even as a small child, bandaging wounded cats and comforting other children in the neighborhood.

"He loved this place, he really did," she said, holding back tears and motioning to the nursery. "He worked overtime a lot."

Ramsey's six children attended the event. They remembered spending lots of time in the obstetrics unit.

"We would spend hours and hours coloring the tags for the cribs," said daughter Jessica Wyatt of Cape Girardeau. "The nurses helped raise us."

The dedication was a special event for Gary and Mary Miller, too. Ramsey helped to save their son, Kirk, at birth, after Kirk suffered a collapsed lung. Now 21, Kirk provided cello music for the ceremony.

"I'm definitely thankful for what he did, and I'm happy to be able to play here today," he said.

The event gave Mary Miller a chance to pay tribute to a dedicated pediatrician.

"We would call him on the weekend. We would see him on New Year's Eve, the Fourth of July and Memorial Day," she said. "He would see you on any holiday if he felt you needed it. That's what made him so special."

'Always, always working'

Kathy Wolz also said she owed Ramsey a debt of gratitude. When Kathy's daughter Katie was only 14 months old, she fell ill with flu-like symptoms.

After initial attempts to treat her symptoms failed, Dr. Ramsey ran an unusual test on Katie. The test came back positive for a rare tropical disease that had been detected in the United States only once before.

Ramsey started Katie on an antibiotic early in the disease's progression, and she regained her health. The story later appeared in "Ladies Home Journal" and on a television show called "True Detectives."

Wolz said she was amazed by the way Ramsey cared for kids.

"He was always, always working," Wolz said. "You could call him at any minute, and he would drop what he was doing. He was the best."

hhall@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 121

jjoffray@semissourian.com

336-6611, extension 226

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