Upstate Foundation to Establish Golisano Center for Special Needs

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

A gift from Paychex founder and philanthropist Tom Golisano will enable the Upstate Foundation to establish Golisano Center for Special Needs at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. The center is slated to provide comprehensive and coordinated medical and behavioral care for children and adolescents with a variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It gives me great pleasure to contribute $3 million to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital to help create the Center for Special Needs, and improve and expand services for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families,” Golisano said. “The number of children needing services and the number currently on the wait list is staggering. The expansion and co-location will help meet the growing demand for services and expedite patients’ progress toward healthy, productive lives.”

Henry S. Roane, Ph.D., chief of development, behavior and genetics at the department of pediatrics, Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, said that the center will offer better care for these patients because it brings the services they need under one roof.

“Syracuse and Upstate has had a number of disjointed programs serving the same general population for years,” Roane said. “One of the most frustrating things is there’s very little collaboration across these programs. By introducing a structure under a more uniform brand is a way to help bring that together. It gets people in the mindset of work together in the center.”

The gift will enable Upstate to develop and renovate more than 10,000 square feet of existing space. It will  offer more patient exam rooms and space for children to receive evaluations and therapy. The center will include accessibility and features that welcome people with sensory related issues such as a multisensory area for children on the autism spectrum.

“We’re trying to design it from the perspective of addressing the needs these kids have, as opposed to a doctor’s office that we’ll fit kids into it,” Roane said. “The primary focus will be pediatric, though we’ll see the occasional adult.”

The center will need to hire additional nurse practitioners and physician assistants, plus around eight at the M.D. or Ph.D. level. Some of the administrative staff will come on board from other clinics within Upstate that are being rolled into the new center.

Some of the services offered at Developmental Evaluation Center, Margaret L. Williams Developmental Evaluation Center and Family Behavior Analysis Clinic will be provided at the new center. Those organizations will continue operation.

The Golisano Center for Special Needs will significantly increase the number of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities served by Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“The center will enable us to increase capacity to 7,600 children per year, which is a 167% increase in unique numbers served compared to 2018,” said  physician Gregory Conners, executive director of the children’s hospital.

Roane said that the goal is to open the facility sometime in the first quarter of 2020.

“Tom is a true philanthropist who gives for all the right reasons,” said Eileen Pezzi, vice president for development at Upstate Medical University. “We are proud to have Tom Golisano’s name on buildings throughout our campuses.”