Philanthropist Thomas Golisano stunned University of Rochester officials on Thursday, donating $20 million–$2 million more than he had previously promised–to jumpstart construction of a new, $134 million children’s hospital.
Golisano, the billionaire founder and chairman of Paychex Inc., revealed the extra amount at a Thursday morning ceremony at URMC. A previous donation from Golisano let URMC establish the Golisano Children’s Hospital on the fourth floor of Strong Memorial Hospital.
Construction of the new children’s hospital, a freestanding building into which the Golisano Children’s Hospital plans to move, would mean that URMC’s delayed expansion plan would be put back on track for less money than first planned and be done sooner, URMC CEO Bradford Berk M.D. said.
Originally budgeted at $250 million, the expansion project was needed to alleviate overcrowding at Strong Memorial, which typically sees occupancy rates of more than 100 percent. Greenlighted by the state in 2008, the expansion was derailed by the financial crisis and lending crunch that hit in late 2008.
URMC has partially restarted the expansion with an ongoing $50 million to $60 million project to add adult-care beds to the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. With the completion of the new children’s hospital, Strong will have added all of the 83 beds the state approved in 2008, Berk said.
As an added bonus, the expansion now is expected to come in for some $60 million less than the original plan and to be completed nine months earlier.
UR president Joel Seligman praised Golisano–who with $14 million in previous gifts already was URMC’s largest donor and who has donated some $145 million to area institutions and charities–as “this generation’s George Eastman.”
(c) 2011 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail [email protected].