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Kaleida Health officials announced this morning "an unprecedented gift" of $10 million for the new Women & Children's Hospital on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus from the John R. Oishei Foundation.
The hospital will be renamed the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital.
The announcement was made at 10 a.m. near the corner of Main and High streets, next to the future site of the hospital.
Today's announced gift, the largest single gift from the foundation in its 102-year history, is the second major donation for the new hospital.
As plans for a new pediatric hospital took hold, the foundation enthusiastically embraced the idea of offering a large gift for the naming rights, said James Wadsworth, chairman of the organization's board.
"This (donation) is a monumental statement," said James Kaskie, president and chief executive officer of Kaleida Health. He characterized the gift as representing the community working together to assure a sound future for the children's hospital and make real a vision for new pediatric services in the region.
Similarly, John Koelmel, chairman of Kaleida Health's board, talked of the foundation's history leading up to this gift as "defining what is so great about Buffalo." He also the donation will spur additional gifts from others.
"Beyond the value of the gift, this will create instant followership. Others will want to join and want to be among the good guys," said Koelmel, chief executive officer of First Niagara Financial Group.
The children's hospital, at the urging of its physicians, announced in 2010 its intention to move to the medical campus. Officials wants a smaller, more efficient facility that better accommodates modern health care practices for women and children.
"From the standpoint of the physicians, I have to say that all of the data points to the fact that integrating the children's hospital into the medical campus is essential for us to provide high quality care," said Dr. Teresa Quattrin, pediatrician-in-chief and head of the group in charge of planning the new hospital.
She said updated facilities also will help in efforts to recruit new doctors.
The new $200 million building will go up at the corner of Ellicott and High streets, across from the Buffalo General Medical Center. A groundbreaking is expected in the spring of 2013 with an aggressive completion date scheduled for December 2015.
A parent of a former patient at the pediatric hospital offered her perspective at the press conference to unveil the new name, portraying the medical facility as an important community asset that deserves support.
Amy Habib-Rittling's son Anthony was born premature in 2006 with a rare condition, and she spoke emotionally of the attentive care he received.
"I stand as one parent whose life has been immeasurably touched by children's hospital," she said.
Kaleida Health in 2003 changed the name of Children's Hospital to Women's and Children's Hospital to bring greater attention to its services for adult women. The latest name change does not reflect any change in services.
John R. Oishei founded Trico Products Corp. in 1917 in Buffalo), and it eventually became one of the world's leading manufacturers of automotive windshield wipers. He established the charitable foundation, the region's largest philanthropic organization, in 1940.
"Oishei was loyal to this city to the end," Wadsworth said.
Less than a month ago, the Children's Guild Foundation presented a $2 million gift for the neonatal intensive care unit of the hospital. The new Women & Children's is moving from its longtime Bryant Street location.
email: hdavis@buffnews.com; mbecker@buffnews.com