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An emotional time as Women & Children’s Hospital closes out a 125-year history

Avery Schneider
Staff and a mock patient prepare for the move from Women & Children's Hospital to the new Oishei Children's Hospital during a mock move in September.

A new chapter is about to begin for Buffalo’s medical community, as staff at Women and Children’s Hospital close out 125 years of welcoming newborns into the world and treating sick kids. Plans to move to the new Oishei Children’s Hospital have been in the works for years, but as they come to fruition, hospital staff are having an emotional time saying good bye.

Kaleida Health CEO Jody Lomeo said many of the long-time staff at Women and Children’s have probably spent more time with patients on the Bryant Street campus than they have at home with their own families. It’s that dedication that makes closing the doors after Friday’s move bittersweet.

“It is tough to leave that campus,” said Lomeo. “And, although the campus is in need of a little TLC and it’s been tired and it’s worn out, it is their home. So our entire community owes a debt of gratitude to that campus and what it’s done for our community over the years.”

Women and Children’s Hospital was founded the late 1800s at The Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. It was housed in a renovated two-story brick home, adapted for an original capacity of just 12 beds. Within a year, demand grew and the hospital property was expanded to fit 40. By the 1950s, the hospital would see growth in both size and capacity, being able to host 200 pediatric patients and 75 maternity beds, as well as many historic accomplishments in medicine.

Read more about Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo’s history here.

Lomeo has been spending more time at Women and Children’s as the November 10 “move day” approaches. He said it was this past Monday that the reality of the move really set in.

“You began to see, each and every day the emotions of the care givers at the Bryant Street campus kind of ramp up and become more visible,” Lomeo said.

But at the same time, he sees a balancing act – with sadness on one side, and excitement for the move on the other.

More than 1500 members of the hospital staff have spent over 2200 hours preparing – from training on the day-of logistics, to learning the new procedures that will give life to Oishei and make a hospital in its infancy work smoothly.

The move begins Friday morning at 7 a.m. Anyone seeking emergency medical care is reminded to go to the new Oishei Children’s Hospital at 818 Ellicott Street from that time on.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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