By Cheryl Powell
Beacon Journal medical writer
The region’s pediatric hospital is getting millions in financial support for its latest growth spurt.
Akron Children’s Hospital has raised $25.2 million during a quiet fundraising phase for its ongoing $180 million campus expansion.
The goal is to raise $60 million in donations for the project, which includes a new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and emergency department, said William Considine, Children’s president and chief executive.
Children’s also plans to dedicate $10 million of the $60 million fundraising target to help Ronald McDonald House of Akron renovate and expand its short-term housing for patient families.
Hospital officials announced the total raised so far during a celebration on Thursday for the Building on the Promise capital campaign.
“I’m very optimistic,” Considine said. “We’ve already surpassed any fundraising campaign we’ve had in the hospital’s history.”
Children’s broke ground last spring on the seven-story addition, which will house the hospital’s new ER and 100-bed NICU, along with an outpatient surgery center and labor and delivery unit for high-risk pregnancies.
The hospital expects to add 175 to 200 new employees, including doctors, support staff, respiratory therapists, environmental service workers and others, when the addition is complete as early as March 2015.
Much of the support for the project so far has come from the hospital’s employees, who committed $3.8 million in donations during an internal campaign last year.
“That’s bigger than other campaigns we had in total over the years,” Considine said. “That just speaks to the pride our people have in terms of being part of the Children’s family and, more importantly, to the privileged responsibility they have in terms of caring for all the children we serve.”
The Women’s Board of Akron Children’s Hospital’s donation of $2.5 million is the largest individual contribution toward the campaign to date.
Nine other businesses and individuals have donated $1 million or more, including Children’s Family Care Inc. (a fund to support the Ronald McDonald House), GOJO, the Mary and Louis S. Myers Foundation, Northeastern Ohio McDonald’s Advertising Inc., Pediatrix Medical Group and three anonymous donors.
Akron Children’s Hospital Board Chair Richard Grigg and his wife, Joanne, also are among the major donors contributing at least $1 million.
Grigg, a retired FirstEnergy executive, said he and his wife came to appreciate the importance of children’s hospitals when their daughter, Nicole, contracted meningitis shortly after birth, resulting in brain damage and a seizure disorder.
The family lived in Milwaukee at the time and relied on a pediatric hospital there to care for Nicole, who died at age 15.
“That’s where we got the love for what children’s hospitals do,” Grigg said.
Akron Children’s Hospital, he said, “is an absolute gem. I think it’s really important for the community to support what’s going on.”
The hospital plans to kick off the public portion of the Building on the Promise capital campaign in the fall.
“We want this community to really have ownership in this,” Considine said.
Online updates about the project are available at http://building.akronchildrens.org/
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.