Upstate Foundation Receives Gift of $3 Million from Tom Golisano to Establish Center for Special Needs

The Upstate Foundation announced today that it has received a gift of $3 million from Paychex founder and philanthropist Tom Golisano to establish a center for special needs at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

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 all types of intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The center will act as the umbrella, creating a framework to increase collaboration resulting in better patient care. It will centralize programs and services available to this population.

The announcement came during the 10thbirthday celebration for Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, for which Golisano gave the naming gift of $6 million.

Golisano said, "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 (I/DD) 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.” 

Eileen Pezzi, vice president for development at Upstate Medical University, said, “Tom is a true philanthropist who gives for all the right reasons.  We are proud to have Tom Golisano’s name on buildings throughout our campuses.” 

Dr. Mantosh Dewan, interim president of Upstate Medical University, noted that while care has always been the same high quality, having premier programs and facilities enables Upstate to attract many outstanding specialists and expand the pediatric services it offers.

“Since the doors of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital opened in 2009, we have Upstate Golisano After Hours Care, a pediatric emergency department that is a Level-One Trauma Center, a renovated nursery and maternity unit at our Community campus, and a center for children’s cancer and blood disorders in our beautiful new Cancer Center,” Dewan said. “And now, the Golisano Center for Special Needs will provide many additional critical services to the community and continue to connect opportunities to better serve patients and their families.”

Establishing the Golisano Center for Special Needs will significantly increase the number of children with I/DD that Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital is able to serve, according to Dr. Gregory Conners, executive director of the Children’s Hospital. “The center will enable us to increase capacity to 7,600 children per year, which is a 167% increase in unique numbers served compared to 2018.” 

Conners added that Golisano’s gift will enable Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital to invest in a range of improvements to meet the needs of these children and their families. New clinical offices will be constructed; upgrades will be made in several areas to broaden choices and opportunities for inclusion; and new staff will be recruited to increase access to services and help families navigate educational systems.

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital will continue to provide diagnostic evaluations and treatments currently provided through the Margaret L. Williams Developmental Center. The Golisano Center for Special Needs will allow the Children’s Hospital to provide an additional 563 evaluations per year through this program, which will likely result in more than 200 diagnoses of autism.  

The center will strive to promote understanding and inclusion of people with I/DD and enhance existing partnerships, foster collaborations and address unmet needs for children with co-morbidities.  

Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and Upstate Medical University are making great strides to understand the root causes and work in partnership to develop effective treatments for I/DDs, especially autism. The Golisano Center for Special Needs will promote ongoing research in these areas and strive to grow the workforce of I/DD health professionals through Upstate’s new Behavior Analysis Studies master’s degree program.  


Learn more or make a donation to the Golisano Center for Special Needs… click here.