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Groundbreaking introduces new era for pediatric medicine

A new era in pediatric medicine began for Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, as ground was broken for the new, freestanding building on November 13, 2009. The five-story, 252,000 square foot facility is scheduled to open in 2012.

More than 400 guests, including children and families; Children’s Hospital physicians, nurses, and staff; board members; donors; students; academic and health care partners; and government and community representatives, gathered on the site of the future facility to commemorate the groundbreaking.

The program featured, a Cirque du Soleil-inspired show, and a line-up of speakers that represented a few of the many constituent groups who helped make the new facility possible.

“This groundbreaking marks the start of a new era in health care,” said Edward P. Junker, III, former chair, Penn State Hershey Board of Directors, “and I thank each of you for your commitment to the children and families of central Pennsylvania.”

Children who have received treatment at Children’s Hospital also spoke about their experiences. Nine-year-old Joey Setlock, diagnosed in 2006 with Burkitt’s lymphoma, shared his excitement about the new facility. “I’m glad there will be a new hospital designed with kids in mind, with play spaces filled with lots of games, books, crafts, and movies. It will help kids like me get better faster.”

Harold L. Paz, M.D., chief executive officer, senior vice president for health affairs, and dean reflected on the longstanding commitment in the region to the health and well-being of children, “A century ago, Milton and Catherine Hershey envisioned our community, and the school they founded, as a haven for children facing difficult challenges—children who, with a little help, could look forward to a bright future. Today, as we break ground for our new, freestanding Children’s Hospital, we continue that legacy of caring for children, and creating a brighter, healthier future for the people of Pennsylvania.”

Philanthropist and transformational donor Jeanne Arnold spoke for herself and her husband, Edward, when she said, “Ed and I remain committed to seeing the new Children’s Hospital become a reality for the families and children in our region.” She also spoke about the compassion extended toward patients and families by the hospital’s physicians, nurses, researchers, and other staff, and the necessity of philanthropy from both the public sector and from private sources to make the new hospital a reality. Ed Arnold concluded the couple’s remarks with the surprise announcement of their additional gift of $3 million, bringing the fundraising campaign total for the building to its goal of $65 million, and the Arnolds’ personal giving to the building to more than $8 million.

Public officials who spoke included Governor Edward Rendell—who announced $14 million in state improvement funds for the freestanding building–Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, and the Rep. John Payne.

At the end of the ceremony ground was broken for the new Children’s Hospital by more than fifty stakeholders in Penn State Hershey Medical Center’s mission. Participants included hospital leadership, board members, donors, IFC/Panhellenic THON Overall Committee members, patients, and public officials, who donned colorful construction helmets featuring children’s handprints as they turned over the first dirt in this milestone project.

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