Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame
During her 41 years of nursing, Surpora Thomas has lead by example. She has been employed at Children’s Hospital since 1965. Known affectionately as “Ms. Children’s Hospital,” she has had numerous accomplishments in her nursing administration role. Under her direction, the inpatient staffing mix at Children’s Hospital changed to an all-professional staff, and she developed a professional development program for nurses. The program has been in effect since 1992 and has three paths -- clinical, management, and education. Mrs. Thomas developed an innovative patient classification system. Its success and fame are being noted in hospitals as far away as Canada. She also initiated a pre-admissions screening program in 1982 that is still used for both medical and surgical patients. Mrs. Thomas started the only extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program in Alabama. ECMO is a form of long-term heart-lung bypass used to treat infants, children, and adults in cardiac and/or respiratory failure despite maximal medical therapy. Mrs. Thomas has received numerous accolades and recognition for her accomplishments. She was the recipient of the 1995 Pinnacle Award for Innovations in Medical Management. The Children’s Health System Board of Trustees and Administration also honored her by establishing the nursing education area in Children’s Hospital in her name. In addition, she was named the Outstanding Nursing Administrator of the Year by the Alabama State Nurses’ Association in 1987. Mrs. Thomas graduated from Grady Memorial Hospital School of Nursing and received her B.S.N. from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and her M.B.A. from Samford University. Her values and ethics have made her a strong advocate for patients as well as the nursing profession.