Golisano Children’s Hospital NICU Receives Naming Gift from Gosnells

Georgia Gosnell and her late husband, Thomas, have a long history of giving in the Rochester area, and the couple’s latest gift will leave an indelible mark on the health of the region’s most vulnerable children. Mrs. Gosnell has committed $5 million to name the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the new Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).

The $5 million commitment will help fund the hospital’s new Gosnell Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which will include 60 beds both in the new building, and in the current NICU space on the third floor of Strong Memorial Hospital. The Gosnell NICU in the new building will provide intensive care to the region’s sickest babies in private rooms. Renovations will be made to the current NICU space to deliver highly specialized care for babies who need less acute treatment.

“There are few ways to make a greater impact on a community’s future health than by ensuring babies the best start they can have in life, and the Gosnells’ gift is going to help us do just that,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).

It was this intensive care needed by 1,200 newborns in the region each year that inspired Mrs. Gosnell to make her gift. Her two girls were born very small almost 60 years ago at Strong Memorial before the NICU existed. One of them, Elizabeth Gosnell Miller, gave the family—and the physicians—quite a scare when she was born in 1962.

“Her heartbeat had stopped, so they did an emergency caesarian,” Mrs. Gosnell recalled. “She had the umbilical cord around her neck six times, which was a record.” Both girls recovered.

Mrs. Gosnell’s gift is one of the largest the Golisano Children’s Hospital’s $100 million campaign has received since its public launch in October 2011, supporting both a new children’s hospital and major enhancements to pediatric programs. The campaign is part of the URMC’s $650 million campaign and the overall $1.2 billion goal of The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester.

The new $145-million Golisano Children’s Hospital, which is the largest single capital project in the history of the University, will be located on Crittenden Boulevard and attached to the Medical Center and Strong Memorial Hospital. The new building will be eight floors and approximately 245,000 square feet of space dedicated to children and their families. The groundbreaking  was Monday ( Sept. 10), with an expected opening in 2015. It is being financed through a combination of equity, loans, and a comprehensive fundraising effort.

“Without forward-thinking philanthropists like Georgia and Tom Gosnell, we wouldn’t be breaking ground on a new children’s hospital tailored to the needs of families of today and tomorrow,” said Nina F. Schor, M.D., Ph.D, William H. Eilinger Chair of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief of Golisano Children’s Hospital. “‘Grateful’ doesn’t begin to describe how we feel about Georgia’s generosity to our region’s most fragile babies.”

Gosnell philanthropic history

The Gosnell family is one of Rochester’s most generous families, having supported the URMC, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester Museum & Science Center, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Al Sigl Center, Genesee Land Trust, and the Memorial Art Gallery, among other important Rochester institutions. In fact, the Gosnells left visible marks on the community, having been instrumental in the restoration of The George Eastman House and the wing-footed Mercury statue on the top of the Aqueduct Building along the river in downtown Rochester.

Mr. Gosnell, who died three years ago, was chairman emeritus of RIT’s Board of Trustees and was a major force behind that school’s Access to the Future fundraising campaign that raised more than $120 million. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and earned many honors during his service, including a Purple Heart. He then went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Yale and worked his way up in the Lawyers Co-Op publishing firm from elevator operator to become the fourth generation of his family to run the company.

Mr. and Mrs. Gosnell met after World War II and shared a common love of sailing. Their love of sailing persisted and the couple’s name graces RIT’s Boathouse. Mrs. Gosnell has loaned out the couple’s yacht, the Timoneer, to bring educational aid to isolated communities around the world.

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