COLUMBIA, Mo. -

Monday marked a milestone in health care for children in central Missouri.

Children's Hospital Critical Care Transport Services is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its pediatric service.

The program transports premature and critically-ill infants from health facilities throughout Mid-Missouri to the more specialized Columbia hospital.

"I think with Dr. [Elizabeth] James's vision over the years, we've really grown," said John Pardalous, medical director of the new natal intensive care unit. "Now we do an average of about 500 transports a year so that's 500 babies or children that we touch their lives every year and bring them to the children's hospital."

Dr. James helped establish the first transport back in 1973.