In 2008, Akron Children’s stepped in to fill the need for a pediatric hospital when Tod Children’s Hospital announced it would close its doors in the Mahoning Valley. Fifteen years later, Akron Children’s is proud of the growth in high-quality, pediatric care it has brought to the Mahoning Valley.
What started as a $1.5 million gift from four members of the Beeghly family has grown to more than 33,290 donors and over $44 million in contributions to support programs, services and campus expansions since 2008.
According to Dr. Elena Rossi, medical director for special projects, it was those early years that laid the groundwork for all the organization’s accomplishments in the last 15 years.
“If we hadn’t been successful in making ourselves stand out and having people trust us, then we would have never been in the position to focus on expanding,” she said.
When the Beeghly campus first opened in 2008, it featured 32 inpatient rooms, an ER, a helipad to transport patients to Akron when needed, as well as rehabilitation, radiology, lab and other services. Since then, the hospital has added specialty services like endocrinology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, orthopedics, cardiology and pediatric surgery. In 2014, renovations to the Pediatric Inpatient Unit and Special Care Nursery were completed and in 2017, a campus expansion project allowed several specialties to relocate from the Medical Office Building in Boardman to the Beeghly campus.
In addition to the beautiful, state of the art campus, one thing patients and families really appreciate is the ability to get specialty care close to home with many providers offering appointments after hours and virtually.
“Having accessible care is really impactful to the community,” said Dr. Rossi. “I see the future of medicine being about more ways to connect the patients to services and meeting them where they are.”
In 2012, the organization brought Home Care services to the Mahoning Valley to help families with medically complex kids keep their kids at home. While clinical care remains the organization’s primary focus, ancillary services that contribute to the patient and family’s well-being are also just as important – things like the Doggie Brigade and Reach Out and Read which both came to the Valley in 2011.
More recently, the hospital expanded its emergency department by adding treatment rooms and a dedicated space for patients experiencing emotional and behavioral emergencies. In 2019, the hospital opened its first freestanding behavioral health center to provide more room to care for adolescents with emotional, behavioral, and developmental disorders. It became the model for the hospital’s future behavioral health centers that have since opened.
Dr. Rossi credits the growth of services on the campus to the relationships the hospital has built with the Valley’s community leaders.
“These are the people who serve on our boards, support our philanthropic events and bring their own children and grandchildren here for services,” she said. “Akron Children’s own leadership was also vital in helping the community believe that we were here to stay.”
The philanthropic support of people in the Valley has allowed for expanded access to accommodate growing patient volumes in the region.
“The list is so long of what a difference the donors have made,” said Dr. Rossi. “We wouldn’t be where we are. Big programs as well as small programs have all benefited. And what that means for this community is that Akron Children’s is going to be serving them for a long time.”
In addition to giving resources, Akron Children’s values its volunteers in the Mahoning Valley who, since 2008, have given a total of 257,188 hours of their time to the hospital – the equivalent of more than $4.5 million.
Paul Olivier, vice president of Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley, said the organization remains just as committed today to meeting the health care needs of infants, children and teens as it did 15 years ago.
“We have continually developed our Boardman campus to expand services to the Valley and we are excited to continue that growth,” he said. “We are grateful to our staff, families, donors and community partners for allowing us the privilege of caring for young people in the Valley these past 15 years and look forward to continuing for many years to come.”