Georgia Gosnell

Family also supports two endowed professorships at University of Rochester Medical Center

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).

Mrs. Gosnell has also created two professorships within the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry—in Quality and Safety and Palliative Care.

“Georgia and Thomas have been great friends of the University—and countless other Rochester institutions—for many years. This gift and the new professorships they have created are part of their incredible philanthropic legacy,” said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester.

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 is planned for Sept. 10, 2012, 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.

Professorships

Over the years, the couple’s ongoing giving to the Medical Center has exceeded $3 million. Mrs. Gosnell has decided to use these endowed funds to establish two permanent endowed professorships: The Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Distinguished Professorship in Palliative Care and The Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Professorship in Quality and Safety. Both professorships are vital to the Medical Center and its patients, and will have a lasting impact on both departments.

“Professorships are a top priority. Increasing their number is a major goal for the School of Medicine and Dentistry in The Meliora Challenge: The Campaign for the University of Rochester,” said School of Medicine and Dentistry Dean Mark B. Taubman, M.D. “Since we’ve started this campaign we’ve added 23 professorships, nearly doubling the number we had prior to the campaign.”

The Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Distinguished Professorship in Palliative Care enhances a program that recently became one of the first nationwide—and the first at an academic medical center—to earn advanced certification from the Joint Commission, the nation’s predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. The Palliative Care program celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011 and continues to grow, providing more than 1,000 new inpatient consultations and about 400 new outpatient and home consultations, annually.

“Our program is now among just a handful nationally that enjoy such endowed support, which will help fuel our mission of providing, studying and teaching about comprehensive, multidisciplinary, evidence-based palliative care for our seriously ill patients and their families,” said Timothy Quill, M.D., the inaugural Gosnell Professor in Palliative Care, as well as professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Humanities, and director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities, and Palliative Care.

Patient safety and patient-centered care are cornerstones of high-quality health care and major priorities at the Medical Center. Supporting this vision, the Georgia and Thomas Gosnell Professorship in Quality and Safety will bolster innovative quality and safety initiatives at the Medical Center and ensure an optimal patient experience. By helping providers and staff learn about and incorporate “best-practices” for safe and high quality care, the endowed professor will promote better patient outcomes and reduce the risk of complications.

“Taking quality and safety at the Medical Center to the highest level requires more than individual projects,” said Robert Panzer, M.D., the first Gosnell Professor in Quality and Safety, Chief Quality Officer and associate vice president of patient care quality and safety. “It requires a long-term commitment to create highly reliable care where patients get the right care at the right time from the entire team—consistently and safely. This professorship will ensure that this work will continue to be supported well into the future.”

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Heather Hare
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