Nursing institute receives $5M gift to extend impact

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The Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, has received a $5 million gift to expand its reach and impact.

Paychex founder Thomas Golisano donated $4 million and the Golisano Foundation gave $1 million to the institute at the St. John Fisher University Wegmans School of Nursing. It builds on a $5.8 million investment from both donors in 2018, officials say.

The gift will boost the institute’s efforts to impact more than 1 million patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities over the next decade.

“I am grateful to Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation for their trust and belief in the unique work of the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing which is transforming the quality of health care for individuals with IDD on a regional, national, and global scale,” says  Gerard Rooney, president of Fisher. “We are honored to partner with Tom and the Foundation and to join them in their continuing commitment to advancing this work on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Fisher also has concurrently committed to the institute by funding an additional $5 million.

“Fisher has clearly demonstrated its commitment to improving health care for people with developmental disabilities by preparing the next generation of nurses and thought leaders with field–specific skills and knowledge,” says Erica Dayton, executive director of the Golisano Foundation. “Tom and the Foundation appreciate the thoughtful approach and use of expertise to develop specialized content, activate leaders, and deploy educational materials across health systems effectively over the next five years of this award.”

Using nursing as a vehicle, the institute has been focused on improving health equity for patients by setting the standard for competent and ethical IDD nursing practice, Fisher officials say. In addition to establishing a leadership team, the institute has launched the Golisano Fellowship program, and developed IDD-inclusive curricula and educational resources for each stage of a nurse’s career over the last five years.

Typically, nurses care for patients with IDD. However, there is limited educational content and clinical experiences to support them as they address the needs of this population. Health disparities and providers’ lack of knowledge and understanding of challenges and needs are among the barriers faced by patients with IDD.

Many local agencies and health systems have partnered with the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability. Together, they develop, test, and refine educational resources, curricula, and materials, including local families and self-advocates in the conversations to ensure patient and caregiver voices are present in the work, officials say. 

Holly Brown, executive director of the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, hopes to engage more nurses, like those who have previously participated in the fellowship program, to act as influencers in their health care settings. The Institute is planning to increase nursing education partnerships and an expanded Golisano Fellowship network to grow its impact.

In September, the National Institutes of Health designated people with disabilities as a health disparity population. This is expected to expand access to funding and resources.

“The Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing exemplifies preparedness meeting opportunity,” Brown says. “In both design and practice, the Institute is already addressing gaps in the current education of nurses treating this population, and as our outcomes attest—momentum is building, and our impact is broadening.”

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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