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CEO TALK: St. Joseph’s Health’s Luke discusses cardiovascular-care center

leslie luke
Photo credit: St. Joseph’s

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The $31 million center for cardiovascular care for which St. Joseph’s Health is raising money in a capital campaign is the “largest initiative” in the organization’s fundraising effort.

That’s according to Leslie Luke, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health, who spoke with reporters following the June 2 announcement at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center.

“It’s going to be able to increase our capacity, the number of services, accessibility, and the quality of our services,” said Luke.


The funding will also target its breast care and surgery program and the St. Joseph’s College of Nursing.

“The College of Nursing … it is an older building. It needs some renovation,” he added.

Luke also shared project details.

“Beyond that, our future plans include an updated women’s and children’s unit; renovations to our orthopedic and spine center; and expanding the primary-care center in our community,” Luke said in his remarks.

The capital campaign won’t cover the cost of all the projects involved, Luke told reporters during a post-event interview.

“The rest of the money will come from our own equity. We won’t be borrowing money for that,” said Luke.

To help pay for the project, the health-care organization is working to raise $20 million as a part of a capital campaign to mark its 150th anniversary in 2019.

“We are pleased to announce that we’ve already raised $12 million toward that goal,” David Panasci, chair of the St. Joseph’s Health Foundation board of directors and chair of the 150th Anniversary Campaign, said in his remarks at the June 2 announcement.

The capital campaign will continue into 2018, according to Luke.

The effort represents the organization’s “most determined philanthropic endeavor yet,” St. Joseph’s Health said in a news release issued June 2.

St. Joseph’s plans to renovate existing space in the hospital for the new cardiovascular-care center. It’ll have six special-procedure rooms, a new hybrid operating room, and “nearly double” the space currently used for these services. The organization expects it’ll be “fully completed” by the fall of 2018.

St. Joseph’s will name the center for cardiovascular care for Dr. A. John Merola, who has been “closely aligned” with St. Joseph’s Health for more than 50 years. He helped create the family-medicine residency program in the 1970s, St. Joseph’s added.

“I’m very honored to have this ability … to make this gift to the health system. St. Joe’s has been a passion of mine for many, many years,” Merola said in his remarks during the announcement.

Merola, who donated $3 million toward the project, is serving as the honorary chairman for the 150th Anniversary Campaign.

It was a “sizable and momentum-building gift,” said Panasci.


Additional projects

Besides the cardiovascular-care center, St. Joseph’s Health also plans to redesign its current breast care and surgery suite to provide more services in a single location, the organization said in its news release.

In the fall of 2017, St. Joseph’s Health will co-locate its breast-imaging services within the current breast care and surgery suite at Northeast Medical Center in Fayetteville.

St. Joseph’s will collaborate with St. Joseph’s Imaging for imaging services within the suite.

In addition, the organization also plans upgrades to the St. Joseph’s College of Nursing, including a new lecture hall, as the organization believes the building is “outdated, inefficient and inadequate for the size of the student body and today’s technological requirements.”

When asked if St. Joseph’s had chosen a contractor for the project, Luke indicated that choice is “still to come.”

Dwyer Architectural of Syracuse provided some of the renderings for the cardiovascular-care center.

St. Joseph’s Hospital was founded by Sr. Marianne Cope and four other Sisters of St. Francis in 1869 at the summit of Prospect Hill, where it is still located today.

St. Joseph’s Health in July 2015 formally joined Livonia, Michigan–based Trinity Health, which describes itself as “one of the largest multi-institutional, Catholic health-care delivery systems in the nation.”

St. Joseph’s Health had transferred the nonprofit sponsorship from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities to Trinity Health’s Catholic Health Ministries.


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