Burn and Trauma Services Renamed to Honor Devoted Benefactors

October 15, 2010

Dennis Kessler, left, and Laurence Kessler

Starting today, all University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) regional burn and trauma services will be renamed in honor of two local restaurateurs who have raised millions of dollars to support them—and share a vision for further developing those services.

Laurence Kessler and Dennis Kessler, founders and co-owners of the Kessler Group, Inc. & Kessler Family, LLC, which operates 21 Burger King and 48 Friendly’s restaurants in the greater Rochester area, have given more than $3 million to URMC’s burn and trauma services to-date. Their new commitment of $1 million will create an endowment to ensure future growth of burn and trauma programs, as well as supporting other University projects.

In recognition of their past and future generosity, URMC will rename the entire program as the Kessler Burn & Trauma Center. The Kessler Center name will now be used to reference all areas within URMC that provide emergent, inpatient, and outpatient care for patients with traumatic injuries and burns. Previously, only the Emergency Department’s trauma unit and Burn/Trauma Intensive Care Unit bore the Kessler name. 

“The Kesslers have raised the standard of care in our community through their unflagging support for the only Level One trauma program in our region,” said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. “Their generosity has enabled our staff to save many lives and eased the suffering of many more in the 17 counties we serve. We are pleased to recognize their extraordinary commitment.” 

“Rochester is our community and we are thrilled to be able to support the families in our region,” said Laurence Kessler. “My brother Dennis and I were taught that it is our obligation to ‘give back.’ We’re proud to be able to impact lives in such a critical way.” 

The Kessler Burn & Trauma Center treats more than 3,000 people each year with severe blunt and penetrating injuries and features the area’s only dedicated burn service. It boasts an expert team of fellowship-trained specialists bolstered by the most advanced technologies for treating minor to severe injuries in modern facilities financed, in part, by the Kesslers. 

“Year after year, the Kesslers have been the largest individual donors to Strong Memorial Hospital,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., the Medical Center’s chief executive officer. “Kessler donations have given us the area’s best facilities for treating patients with traumatic injuries or burns. Their ongoing commitment to the Center’s endowment will ensure that our program meets regional needs and sets the pace nationally among centers that treat burns and other traumatic injuries.”

With a Kessler-funded endowment, the Center hopes to attract more specialists who can offer a wider array of treatment options. In addition, Jeffrey H. Peters, M.D., Seymour I. Schwartz Professor and Chair of Surgery at the Medical Center, said the Kessler Burn & Trauma Center will be able to expand clinical research, become a leading presence in regional and national professional societies, and continue to improve patient care and surgical training.

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