Turn no child away for any reason. It’s one of three core promises at Akron Children’s Hospital and for donor, Leonard “Lenny” Fisher, it’s a promise that hits close to home.
“From a very young age, I watched my parents and the way they treated people,” said Lenny. “My mother would never turn anybody away who needed help, and my father was the same way. They instilled that in me, and I want to share what I have. And I’ll keep on sharing. Because there’s nothing more important than helping others.”
The chairman of the board of Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream has been a longtime supporter of Akron Children’s. He’s contributed to the Vision for our Valley’s Children Campaign Fund, the Pediatric Cardiology Fund and the Mahoning Valley Fund, to name a few. Along with Jim Brown, chief operating officer of Handel’s, he helped launch the Koins for Kids Campaign in 2008, which challenges schools in Trumbull and Mahoning counties to raise awareness and funds for the hospital. This program, along with several other fundraisers, has resulted in half a million dollars of support for our hospital’s efforts in the region.
While Lenny credits his parents for teaching him the importance of helping others, it was his experience with his son, Joshua, at Akron Children’s predecessor in the region that drove him to be a supporter of children’s health care in the Mahoning Valley.
“When Joshua was born in 1982, he was rushed in for an emergency operation at Tod Children’s Hospital,” said Lenny. “He had a condition called gastroschisis, which means his intestines were outside his stomach. He survived the surgery without a hitch. But without a children’s hospital, my son wouldn’t be here today. That’s how I got involved in supporting children’s health care, and I appreciate that Akron Children’s is in our area.”
Fulfilling an urgent need
For Lenny, the idea of community lies at the forefront of the expansion project – and his gift.
“We are extremely fortunate to have wonderful and compassionate providers like Akron Children’s in the Mahoning Valley,” he said. “It’s amazing the care and attention the children in the Valley can receive without traveling to Akron.”
During a recent tour of the Boardman emergency department, one thing became very clear to him – the facility needed an upgrade.
“Every bit of space – from the hallways to the rooms – was utilized to the point where immediate growth was needed,” he said. “It was very tight. But it was amazing to me how the staff was able to keep up the case demand on a daily basis. The way the facility is run and the way they deliver expert care to kids really impressed me.”
The current space was built to accommodate 80 patient visits per day. In peak times, the hospital has seen up to 180 patient visits per day. In addition, with a growing need for behavioral health care, more space is needed to appropriately care for these patients.
“As the only pediatric hospital to serve the Mahoning Valley, Akron Children’s is the main point of emergency pediatric care for families in the region,” said Scott Beichner, DO, FAAP, FACOP, medical director of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. “This expansion will help us deliver prompt and appropriate access to pediatric emergency medical care for all children regardless of income level, type of insurance or health status.”
With donor support, the emergency department will more than triple in size – increasing from 8,300 square feet to 30,800. The number of patient rooms will be expanded and more clinical support spaces will be added, including rooms specially designed for patients facing emotional and behavioral emergencies. The patient and family experience will be a focal point – with expanded parking, a new family-friendly entrance, waiting areas and family restrooms, and additional registration and triage capacity designed for privacy.
“The emergency department’s new, enlarged footprint will enhance the patient and family experience by improving access to resources our staff needs to deliver high-quality care,” said Mary Costello, MD, site director of Mahoning Valley emergency services and pediatric emergency medicine physician.
Putting community first
“Our expanded emergency department is a major investment in the community,” said Paul N. Olivier, vice president of Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. “It wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of donors like Lenny Fisher. We’re grateful that he and other local leaders recognize the importance of this project.”
Lenny’s donation established The Leonard J. Fisher Family Emergency Department Fund. Through his gift, Lenny said he is doing his part to make sure that immediate care is readily available to children and families in the region.
“That’s what’s important to me,” he said. “There would be nothing more frustrating for a parent if the emergency department wasn’t available during a time of crisis. Akron Children’s doesn’t turn any family away for lack of insurance or the family’s ability to pay. They rely heavily on donations. Without the contributions of individuals and companies, I don’t believe the hospital would be able to operate at the current level. So, for those of us who are able, we should give ‘til it hurts – and then give more.”
Make an investment in our kids and your community. Your gift to support the expansion of the Mahoning Valley ED will help the more than 30,000 children and families who rely on our facility each year. Help us improve access to necessary emergency services, create a family-centered experience and improve the work environment for our medical staff. Contact Luann Maynard, director of development at Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, at 330-746-9122 firstname.lastname@example.org to make your gift today!