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Cedar Rapids family honors daughters with endowment for child psychiatry, neonatology

By Francie Williamson, Communications Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry

Michelle LeCompte and her husband, Tim White, have lived in Cedar Rapids for more than two decades, and in that time, they have become big fans of UI.

In 2015, their daughter, Emily, graduated from UI with her bachelor’s degree in health and human physiology with a minor in global health studies. Emily then studied at the UI Carver College of Medicine, graduating in 2019.

LeCompte says when she and her husband started contemplating creating an endowment at UI, they asked Emily where she thought the need was greatest.

“She felt that child psychiatry really needed the support, that it’s under invested in by people outside the university and it really could use more support,” LeCompte says.

Emily, who is now a second-year family medicine resident at University of Rochester Medical Center, says access to child mental health services is incredibly important to help improve future health and quality of life.

“Improving access, quality of care and continued research in the field to better understand and manage psychiatric conditions in children will provide a better future for us all,” Emily says.

A gift to the NICU

In addition to pledging $2.3 million to child and adolescent psychiatry, LeCompte and White pledged $2.3 million to the NICU at Stead Family Children’s Hospital in honor of their younger daughter, Elizabeth.

“Lizzie was born at 24 weeks in 1989,” LeCompte says. “She was in the NICU in Detroit.”

LeCompte says she and her husband have been impressed with the NICU at UI and the work the staff have been doing there.

“We’ve had a chance to tour there and have been blown away at some of the advances and by the family-centered care,” LeCompte says. “We have faith in the University of Iowa to do the kind of groundbreaking research that can help change both the incidence of prematurity and the outcome for premature babies.

How the money is being used

Both the Department of Psychiatry and Department of Pediatrics have used some of the initial funds provided by the family to establish post-doctoral fellowships.

For the Department of Pediatrics, the Elizabeth White Neonatology Fellow Academic Fund will assist with any needs related to neonatal fellows.

Meanwhile, in the Department of Psychiatry, the Whites’ gift this year funded two postdoctoral fellows, Sara Wise, PhD and Lea Boldt, PhD. Next fall, a postdoctoral fellow will assist Stacey Pawlak, PhD, in the Women’s Wellness Clinic.

Hanna Stevens, MD, PhD, division director, child and adolescent psychiatry, says the plan is to use the White endowment funding to focus on child psychiatry as well as the psychological needs of mothers during pregnancy and preterm birth.

“A lot of kids have behavioral health needs that stem from difficulties that happened during pregnancy and birth,” Stevens says. “We need to focus on intervention as early as possible.”

LeCompte agrees.

“Psychiatric problems are among the most intractable of health concerns,” LeCompte says. “We don’t know nearly enough and we need to do a lot of additional research and reach people as early as possible with the results of that research, hopefully in childhood. So, the earlier the intervention, the better the foundation for that child.”

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is a featured area on March 24 during One Day for Iowa, the biggest fundraising day of the year for the university. Find out how to donate. 
Tuesday, March 9, 2021