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September 26, 2014
Darryl Geddes 315 464-4828

Look who’s 5! Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital celebrates birthday

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— Five years ago this week, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital opened its doors and ushered in new era of pediatric care for Central New York.

“It’s hard to believe that five years ago, Syracuse was one of the largest cities in the country without a children’s hospital,” said Thomas Welch, MD, medical director of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Upstate Medical University.  “With overwhelming support from the community, which continues today, we’ve not only opened our doors of this special facility, we’ve also helped strengthen pediatric care for children in this region.”

Since opening in 2009, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital has cared for about 4,500 children annually.  That’s up from about 3,000 children cared for each year at Upstate before the children’s hospital opened.

Last year, most children hospitalized at Upstate Golisano were from Onondaga County (1,956), followed by Oneida (445), Oswego (435), Jefferson (255) and Broome (204) counties.  Upstate Golisano cared for children from 44 of New York’s 62 counties. Children from out of state and even from faraway lands also dot the inpatient register.  Welch said international patients arrive at Upstate Golisano to receive some of the specialized treatment available at only a handful of other facilities, such the innovative use of laser ablation surgery to eradicate non-cancerous tumors.

“Add to those numbers the thousands more children who have been treated at one of our outpatient specialty clinics and there’s a good chance that many of us know friends and neighbors who have had a child cared for by us in some fashion,” Welch said.

Accolades and recognition for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital have been garnered for everything from its innovative design to patient care and quality.

The two-story, 71-bed children’s hospital with generous playrooms, an interfaith chapel, family resource center, performance center and family living spaces with laundry facilities has been recognized by architectural and design associations. The dramatic treehouse design was recognized with the Design Merit Award from a chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Award of Merit from the Upstate Chapter of the Commercial Real Estate, Development Association.  The children’s hospital has hosted several contingents of facility administrators and physicians from other parts of the country to tour the iconic structure for ideas on what a children’s hospital should be like.

In many ways these accolades honor the staff members, parents and patients, whose ideas became the design by the architectural firm Karlsberger, of Columbus, Ohio, and assisted by King and King Architects LLP, of Syracuse.

In the past five years, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital has put in place several initiatives aimed at providing a safe environment for the care of children.  The children’s hospital has implemented or joined Solutions for Patient Safety, a network of children’s hospitals across the country that share patient safety solutions; and the Central Line Collaborative, a national quality initiative that aims to decrease and lessen the likelihood of central line infections.

Quality recognition of pediatric services also has been forthcoming since the children’s hospital opened, most recently with the national verification as a Level 1 trauma center by a special committee of the American College of Surgeons to recognize the optimal trauma care offered to pediatric patients. Other honors include the designation of the outpatient Pediatric and Adolescent Center as a Patient-Centered Medical Home.

One of the most important regional benefits to having a children’s hospital is that pediatric specialists who may have looked elsewhere for a career are checking out Syracuse.

Welch says the children’s hospital has helped recruit numerous pediatric specialists in diabetes, neurosurgery, gastroenterology and motility disorders.  The children’s hospital has also given physicians and researchers a larger platform from which to do their clinical analysis, especially in the areas of autism and developmental disorders, as well as exploring ways to influence child health policy.

Then there’s the children’s hospital fun factor.  Video games on floors and in patient rooms, a giant fish tank, art gallery, crafts and special reading time all help lessen the anxiety of a hospital stay for the youngest of patients. Not to mention a steady stream of get-well wishers, including the likes of Miss America Nina Davuluri, Elmo and Cookie Monster, Snow White, the Syracuse Chiefs, Monster Trucks, the Harlem Globetrotters and the Wiggles.  All have stopped by to entertain in the past five years.

Community outreach, also a hallmark of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, is noted most in the hospital’s leadership of Central New York’s Safe Kids International. Working with health care providers and other local experts, Upstate’s Safe Kids has touched the lives of families across the region with car safety seat checks, bicycle helmet giveaways, concussion education for parents, coaches and athletes, and a safe sleep campaign for babies.

And donors have kept giving. After raising more than $21 million to build the facility, the community continues to support the children’s hospital’s many special programs and amenities. Runs, walks, golf tournaments, lemonade stands, radiothons, bequests, charitable contributions and other innovative ways of giving have raised more than $8 million since the hospital opened in 2009, according to Eileen, Pezzi, Upstate’s vice president for development.

Welch said the long list of enhancements in pediatric care is a direct result of the opening of the children’s hospital. “The community—those who gave generously and insisted that Syracuse was not too small for a children’s hospital—helped us bring leading-edge children’s care to central New York,” he said.

“We’re delighted to be five today and we thank everyone who has helped us grow,” Welch said.

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