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Golisano donates $3M for center for special needs at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital

By Eric Reinhardt


Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation, announces a $3 million gift from Tom Golisano at the Upstate Foundation’s celebration of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital’s 10th birthday, held Sept. 27. (PHOTO CREDIT: UPSTATE MEDICAL UNIVERSITY WEBSITE)

SYRACUSE — Business executive Tom Golisano has made another significant donation to Upstate Medical University. 

The medical school will use Golisano’s $3 million donation to help establish a center for special needs at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Golisano — the founder and chairman of Rochester–based Paychex Inc. — had previously provided a $6 million naming gift for the Children’s Hospital.

The donation announcement was part of a Sept. 27 event marking the facility’s 10th birthday.

 “It’s not a secret but Tom does have an adult child in his mid-50s with intellectual disabilities and Tom’s first act of philanthropy 35 years ago was the Golisano Foundation with a contribution of only $90,000. So, this is a cause, a condition … it’s very near and dear to Tom’s heart,” Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation in Rochester, said in making the funding announcement. 

“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. 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,” Golisano said in the Upstate news release.

Golisano had planned to attend the birthday event but had to deal with another matter and couldn’t make it, Eileen Pezzi, VP for development at Upstate Medical University, noted in her remarks at the event.

About the center

The center, which will be named the Golisano Center for Special Needs in Golisano’s honor, will provide “comprehensive, coordinated and scientifically based” medical and behavioral care for children and adolescents with “many types” of intellectual and developmental disabilities, Upstate Medical said. It will centralize programs and services at Upstate that are currently “available to this population.”

The facility does a “phenomenal job caring for children,” but children with intellectual and developmental disabilities is the one group that “we really need to do more for,” Dr. Gregory Conners, executive director of the children’s hospital, said in his remarks at Friday’s event. 

“Children are waiting too long to receive an evaluation. The average wait time to receive a developmental evaluation is about 22 months. Access to services needs to be improved,” said Conners.

Conners notes that the new center will “significantly” increase how many children with intellectual and developmental disabilities that Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is able to serve. 

“The center will enable us to increase capacity to 7,600 children per year, which is a 167 percent increase in unique numbers served compared to 2018,” Conners said.