BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Children’s Hospital had to overcome opposition from its own staff and the community in order to make this move into a state-of-the-art facility.
It’s difficult to forget the public pleas, threats and cajoling that dominated the headlines in Buffalo in early 2002. This community cared for Children’s as wasn’t about to let it be merged into another facility.
A big part of that movement was motivated by doctors, nurses and families who firmly opposed Kaleida Health’s consolidation and cost-cutting plan.
The early history
A doctor with a dream convinced two women to buy a vacant house on Bryant street and turn it into a 12-bed hospital in 1892. Demand soared, and within a year, the hospital had already expanded, according to a brief history on Kaleida’s website.
The hospital burgeoned with Buffalo, providing pioneering care for kids, away from adults. Soon, everyone realized it was better for their recovery. The hospital sat for more than a century at its original spot on Bryant, bridging cultural and generational divides.
Save Children’s Hospital
In the early 2000’s, in an attempt to cut costs and deal with debts, Kaleida Health considered merging Children’s with another facility. Bills great Jim Kelly joined the fight to stop them.
“I don’t look at myself as a Buffalo Bills player. Now, I look at myself as a father and a person that’s looking to save a lot of other kids out there,” Kelly said days before a community rally.
Hospital staff threatened to leave Buffalo if administrators went through with the plan. One staffer told News 4, “It has united us as a hospital, and this tells me it has united us as a community.”
A rally on March 2, 2002 brought hundreds to Niagara Square. Their cries turned to cheers weeks later when Governor George Pataki lawmakers announced the facility would stay on Bryant Street.
“You have demonstrated just how much this hospital means to WNY,” then assemblyman Sam Hoyt told the crowd.
That same year the hospital name was formally changed to Women and Children’s Hospital.
A vision for the future
The division that dominated 2002 eventually turned to discourse, and minds began to shift in the coming years. Could the hospital actually move to the medical campus? Would the Elmwood Village be okay without the hospital?
A new vision emerged, and this time, it had the backing of the community. Leaders carefully gathered input from teams of doctors, nurses, patients and volunteers. Together they shaped the plans for the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.
“They have been integral in these designs. And they are really assuring that what we’re building is efficient – it’s effective,” a representative told News 4 the day of the groundbreaking in October 2014. “The Oishei Children’s Hospital will have a profound impact on all of western New York,” said Dr. Teresa Quattrin, Pediatrician-in-Chief at Women and Children’s Hospital at the time.
Now, more than 3 years later, the $270 million dollar hospital appears ready for its next chapter caring for the kids of WNY.