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Historic Firsts as Hospital Prepares to Open Its Doors

Strong Kids Newsletter

This will be a year of historic firsts for UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital. In May, the new hospital shifts from being a construction site to a training site, with nurses, physicians and other staff learning how to work in their new building for the first time. Then, our new Pediatric Imaging Suite will open with a PET-MRI, the first in upstate New York.

In early July, the first of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit patients will move into the new hospital, with private rooms and exponentially more space for families. The pediatric patients will follow, moving into the seventh and eighth floors, filling, for the first time, those beautiful rooms with breath-taking views of our region.

And, for the first time since Strong Memorial Hospital opened in 1926, Golisano Children’s Hospital will have its own building, completely dedicated to and designed for children and their families.

As we look forward to the months ahead, we want to look back on some other firsts for this historic building – its first named-space donors.

First Individual Gift

The SpallsAfter the economic downturn, our first attempt to build a new children’s hospital was put on hold, but our hope for one continued. Our namesake and largest benefactor, B. Thomas Golisano helped us to envision a whole new plan, one that could better serve our pediatric patients and give them space, just for them.

Before that new plan could be announced, Ted Spall, president of Spall Management, and his wife, Suzanne, wanted to honor his mother’s wishes and leave a large portion of her estate to the not-yet-planned hospital.

“We had to create the account in order to accept the gift,” said Scott Rasmussen, assistant vice president for Advancement.

Laura Spall’s gift was the first individual gift to the new hospital.

“She always had a fondness for children in the hospital,” Spall said. “She wanted to have a lasting effect.”

The Spalls have added to the initial gift and are still mulling over what space they will name in honor of their family.

First Community Fundraising Gift

When Jackie and Ben Klube came to Golisano Children’s Hospital for the first time, they walked in scared and crying. When they walked out the first time, with a healthy baby girl with a repaired heart, they were crying again, but, this time, they were tears of joy. They made a promise to themselves that they would always do what they could to support the hospital.

The Klubes thought that meant dropping change into a canister at Walmart and buying Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals balloons at the gas station.

Ali-GatorsThe family’s nephew, Nathan, also needed heart surgery at the hospital. This further motivated the Klubes and their friends and family who make up Team Ali-Gaiters to support the hospital. They have organized and grown an annual clambake, launched a 5K called Running to Remember and created a Stroll for Strong Kids team, all raising more than $20,000 each year.

 “We never in our wildest dreams thought it could come to this level,” Jackie said.

It didn’t occur to the Klubes that they could fund a patient room in the new hospital until they were asked. That $100,000 commitment over five years felt like a big one, but Team Ali-Gaiters jumped on board as the first community group to name a room and it is ahead of schedule to meet its goal.

 “I couldn’t believe we could do this,” Jackie said.

First Leadership Gift

Mark Siewert, chair of the children’s hospital board and former owner of Siewert Equipment Company, and his wife Marcia, are in a special position to understand how important this new hospital is. More than a decade ago, their son, Mark Daniel Siewert, was in need of the specialized services the children’s hospital provides.

Following surgery, Mark Daniel spent eight months in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Throughout that process, the Siewerts saw the dedication of the hospital’s physicians, nurses and staff. Mark was compelled to join the hospital’s board while his son was still a patient. Ultimately, Mark Daniel lost his battle, but the couple felt the need to give back to the hospital that had tried so hard to save their son.

From the many, many nights the Siewerts spent in the PICU, they knew how much a bigger, more modern PICU was needed so they helped to raise money to build that unit, which opened in late 2004. When the hospital launched its effort to build the new Pediatric Surgical Suite, the Siewerts immediately saw the benefits of creating more space to allow parents to be with their children as much as possible throughout the process. That suite opened in 2006.

Siewert took over duties as board chair in June 2010, embracing his dual role as board chair and a campaign leader, which was underscored by his generous leadership gift, the first of many from the leadership of the board, hospital and medical center.

First Corporate Gift

It is fitting that the first corporate gift to the new hospital came from the employees of Paychex, which the hospital’s largest benefactor founded. Paychex President and Chief Executive Officer Martin Mucci presented the gift to the hospital on behalf of the company’s employees in 2011, and said, “Their sense of community, here in Rochester and across the country, is an important part of who we are and what we stand for as a company.”

Paychex wasn’t just the first corporation to give a gift to the hospital; it was the first to name a patient room inside the hospital.

Mucci said he hoped that many other corporations followed suit, and they have.


In addition to the many firsts coming this year, there are also some lasts. Among those are the last chances to name spaces within the new hospital. Many of the common areas are already spoken for, but there are still patient rooms in the NICU and pediatric floors ready for donor names. For more information on how you can support the building, please contact Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Advancement Office at (585) 273-5948.