B. Thomas Golisano Gives $14 Million to Strong Children's Hospital

August 09, 2002

Strong Children's Hospital, the only hospital in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region dedicated exclusively to the care of children, is poised to become an even bigger resource for families thanks to a $14 million gift from B. Thomas Golisano. In honor of the gift, the hospital is now known as Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong.

Golisano, a local entrepreneur and philanthropist, is founder, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Paychex, Inc., based in Rochester, N.Y. The company is a leading national provider of payroll and human resource services for small- to medium-sized businesses.

"I am inspired by the noble work that these medical professionals do," Golisano says. "This gift provides the opportunity to have a positive impact on many families."

Golisano's gift to the children's hospital - part of the University of Rochester Medical Center - is the single-largest given by a living donor to either entity.

"This gives us a renewed sense of energy as we continue to transform what we now proudly call Golisano Children's Hospital into a national leader in childhood health," says Elizabeth McAnarney, M.D., pediatrician-in-chief. "Tom's gift will help us enhance the already substantive services we offer, and allow us to continue providing the best care so that no child will be forced to seek treatment far from home. We are grateful beyond words."

Building a national reputation Golisano Children's Hospital, located within Strong Memorial Hospital, has 123 beds. With the exception of pediatric heart transplantation, for which the hospital is licensed, it offers practically every medical service and treatment a child may need. These include treatments and therapies for chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma, as well as leading-edge surgeries - such as kidney, liver, and small-bowel transplantation - that are usually reserved for larger cities.

Golisano Children's Hospital is a national leader in several areas, and is becoming one in other key areas. Its Pediatric Brain Tumor Center is designated as a national Center of Excellence, recognized for its highly trained staff of pediatric brain-tumor specialists. The program will be expanded regionally to include young adults, potentially doubling the number of patients treated and followed long-term. In addition, the hospital's division of pediatric cardiology, Upstate New York's most comprehensive resource for children and young adults who have heart or blood vessel-related problems, is among the nation's finest.

It has a thriving research program, one of the few pediatric interventional cardiologists in Upstate New York, and is home to the North American Pediatric Cardiomyopathy Registry, which tracks information about children in the United States and Canada who have a weakening of the heart muscle. Some of the most state-of-the-art heart equipment is found at Golisano Children's Hospital.

"I believe this will be good for the economy of Rochester by making this facility the premier location for medical care and research," Golisano says. "As a person who has young grandchildren and grandnieces and nephews, as a person who recognizes the potential positive impact on so many people's lives, and as a person who - fortunately - has the personal resources to help, it seemed like an easy decision."

Fund-raising campaign launched Golisano's gift will be distributed during six years. It kicks off a $30 million comprehensive campaign that will significantly upgrade the services and facilities available at the region's only children's hospital. The most pressing need outlined in the campaign is for a new 22-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), one that includes a dedicated Pediatric Cardiology Intensive Care Unit to accommodate the work being performed by the hospital's pediatric heart team. Golisano Children's Hospital has recruited some of the best pediatric surgeons available, and their good work necessitates additional PICU space. For instance, in 1997, fewer than 50 pediatric heart surgeries were performed here. This year, the hospital is on pace to perform more than 200, and all of these children need recovery time in the PICU. While functional, the current 12-bed PICU is often operating at or near capacity and, given projections of patient-care needs, it will soon be undersized. "Our plan, which is designed with such a possibility in mind, calls for a dramatic increase in PICU space," McAnarney says. No beds will be added to the hospital's operating license, McAnarney says. The new PICU - which, pending state approval, will be built above the year-old emergency department along Elmwood Avenue - will provide a better and more efficient way to situate beds that are already in existence. In addition to expanding the PICU, funds raised during the capital campaign will help Golisano Children's Hospital stay ahead of the medical curve by:

  • Building a Pediatric Surgery Center to provide the needed operating rooms to accommodate the expanding range of pediatric surgical services, including general pediatric surgery, heart surgery, neurosurgery, and craniofacial surgery.
  • Constructing and upgrading research laboratories and community-based research initiatives. One of our main goals is to be among the top 10 in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding for Departments of Pediatrics, and the first in national funding for pediatric health-services research. 
  • Acquiring state-of-the-art equipment for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). With 52 beds, it is larger than any intensive care unit at the Medical Center. The NICU serves more than 1,200 newborns annually from throughout Central and Western New York. 
  • Recruiting leaders for specialty and sub-specialty care and research, such as specialists in pediatric cardiovascular diseases, intensive care, genetics, pediatric cancer biology, vaccine development, neonatology, pulmonology, and child health. 
  • Establishing regional centers of excellence in gastroenterology; children's cancer; pulmonology; adolescent medicine; autism services; and plastic surgery.

"These are ambitious goals, but, thanks to the generosity of people such as Tom Golisano, we're confident they are within our grasp," says Jay H. Stein, M.D., chief executive officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center. "We look forward to rallying further community support, from the grassroots to the corporate level. When it comes to children, every dollar counts."

Community support is crucial Golisano Children's Hospital offers many more services than it did just a decade ago. That positive change was brought about, in part, because of solid support from the greater Rochester community. Although this tremendous gift is a fund-raising milestone, hospital leaders say, Golisano Children's Hospital will rely on continued community support to help fund its important initiatives.

"At a time when other children's hospitals are facing financial peril and lacking the support of key community leaders, our children's hospital is thriving and being held up by many as a model of pediatric health care," McAnarney says. "Our success hasn't happened by accident. Using a combination of careful planning within the medical center and community goodwill, we've quietly created a children's hospital of which we can all be proud."

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