Rochester Restaurateurs Donate $2 Million to Strong’s New Adult Burn/Trauma ICU

October 27, 2003

"As we continue to care for more critically injured patients, it’s important that we have the right facilities and equipment to give them the best chance for survival."

Continuing their long-standing commitment to the emergency and trauma services at Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester restaurateurs Laurence and Dennis Kessler are donating $2 million to help fund the construction of an adult intensive care unit (ICU) for burn and trauma patients. The new Kessler Family Burn/Trauma ICU will be the state’s largest and most modern trauma and burn facility outside of New York City.  It is part of a larger $20 million construction project at Strong Memorial and Golisano Children’s hospitals to expand intensive care units for children and adults.

The Kesslers, who own and operate 21 Burger King and 41 Friendly’s restaurants within a 200-mile radius of Rochester, have been loyal supporters of Strong’s emergency and trauma services for the past decade. In 1998, the Kesslers donated $1 million to help fund the construction of the Laurence and Dennis Kessler Regional Trauma Unit in Strong Memorial’s emergency department. This newest gift will allow Strong to continue its commitment to expand and upgrade its trauma and burn programs.

“I have great respect and admiration for the life-saving work performed at Strong to give people suffering from terrible injuries the best chance they can to live a normal life after an accident,” Dennis Kessler, who is also a University of Rochester Medical Center board member, said. “Our gift is a testament to the passion and commitment that the doctors, nurses and staff bring to their work everyday, and to ensure that Strong, as the region’s only trauma center, provides the best treatment and care to people at a time in their life when they need it most.”

Laurence Kessler, an avid sports car and motorcycle racer, knows first-hand the benefits a well-equipped trauma service can offer to accident victims.

“Over the years, I have witnessed many terrible sporting accidents, and have been amazed at the clock-work precision with which a trauma team responds, not just at the scene, but throughout the victim’s entire hospital stay,” Kessler said.  “We want to help ensure that such a specialized core of services is readily available to our entire region.”

Steve Goldstein, president of Strong Memorial Hospital, noted that the expansion will allow Strong’s trauma team to better handle the increase in patient volume experienced in recent years.  Today, Strong is caring for 25 percent more burn and trauma patients than in 1999, from 1,887 to 2,338. 

“As the regional trauma center for upstate New York, it’s important that we have the appropriate facilities and equipment to provide critically ill patients the best care possible,” Goldstein said.  “I am thankful to the Kesslers for their continued support of our emergency and trauma programs so we are able to modernize and expand our burn and trauma ICU to better serve this region.”

Increased Size, Enhanced Capabilities

The new Kessler Family Burn/Trauma ICU is being constructed directly above the emergency department allowing for easy transfer of incoming trauma cases from the ED via high-speed elevators. The 22-bed unit is three times larger than the current trauma space, and will increase by 50 percent the number of beds available for trauma and burn patients. Fifteen beds will be devoted to trauma care and seven beds designated for adults suffering from burns, although a flexible configuration will allow rooms to be used depending on patient needs at any given time. In the event of a disaster, two of the rooms will be able to accommodate two patients each.

On the trauma side of the unit, all rooms will be significantly larger than existing ICU trauma rooms, and will contain the necessary equipment to perform bedside procedures.  In addition, all rooms will be equipped with separate temperature systems to maintain specific heat and humidity requirements to help those patients in shock maintain body temperature.

Rooms for burn patients also have individual temperature controls, along with specially equipped bathrooms and showers to make bathing more comfortable for burn victims recovering from skin grafts. In addition, the new unit will house a hydrotherapy room to help care for patients during the acute phase of burn recovery, a physical and occupational therapy gym for in-hospital rehabilitation sessions, and an outpatient room to provide treatment for burns at nights and weekends.   

New, advanced equipment will be installed at each of the two nurses stations to allow for more sophisticated monitoring of all patients. The new ICU area also will contain a waiting room designed to enhance privacy for families, as well as a meeting room for discussions with physicians.  The current trauma ICU area does not have such a waiting room.

“We are thankful for the ongoing support of the Kessler family, who echo the commitment of our hospital to maintain thriving trauma and burn programs,” Paul Bankey, M.D., chief of the Trauma/Burn Center at Strong Memorial Hospital, said.  “As we continue to care for more critically injured patients, it’s important that we have the right facilities and equipment to give them the best chance for survival.”

Strong expects construction of the new unit to be completed in December of 2004. 

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