Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation in New Brunswick is in the midst of its biggest fundraising campaign of all time, seeking $45 million for the development of new centers and several research projects. Thus far, CSHF has raised $34.1 million in 20 months since launching its Transforming Lives 2.0 capital campaign. The foundation aims to raise $45 million toward a total bill of $89 million for planned projects. The additional cost will be financed.
CSHF President and Chief Development Officer Phil Salerno said the funds will ultimately increase access points for patients. The hospital recently opened a new outpatient center in Union and is also expanding this year in Bayonne and Eatontown. A new center is being built in Toms River to combine two older facilities, and bed capacity will be increased at its center in Mountainside.
Salerno also said that the funds will go toward increasing telehealth access — “which after two years, we think is here to stay,” he noted — as well as toward new research conducted independently by staff and in conjunction with the Kessler Family Foundation on topics including autism, brain injury, chronic health conditions, cognition and mobility.
“At the time we developed this plan, none of us were using ‘pandemic’ in a sentence,” Salerno said. “The capacity in our buildings is greater than what we can have now in terms of keeping children safe and socially distant. [Putting money toward telehealth] is really making sure we have the Wi-Fi and everything else to meet that need for families.”
In a departure from prior fundraising initiatives, CSHF recruited two successful New Jersey businessmen to run the campaign. Co-chairs Mark Montenero, president of Autoland Toyota, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram Trucks in Springfield, and Ed McKenna, senior partner at McKenna, Dupont, Stone & Washburne and former mayor of Red Bank, are also on the CSHF board of trustees. Additionally, CSHF tapped former professional baseball player Todd Frazier and his wife Jackie as honorary chairs to work alongside Montenaro and McKenna.
Recruiting the chairs and honorary chairs, Salerno said, has made “all the difference” in how quickly funds are being raised. “Our campaign [to build] the hospital in New Brunswick took three years to get to $30 million. The pace of this has been much quicker,” he said.
“I care deeply about the children and families in my hometown, throughout New Jersey, and well beyond,” Frazier said in a November statement. “This initiative and momentous campaign has the power to change so many lives – and deliver so many smiles – across our amazing state. It’s an honor to fight for each and every family that is in need of specialized care and support to get through some of the hardest times in their lives.”
Salerno has seen the hospital grow and help thousands of patients since he joined the foundation in 1987. He’d previously volunteered at Camp Fatima of New Jersey in Hamilton while in college, which tapped into an interest in helping children. Working at the hospital, he told his friends, “was just like going to camp, I just have to dress nicer.”
“It’s the same mission of taking care of kids, and we get to see the impact of our work,” he said.
Over the years, he’s seen CSH grow from one site to 15 serving 40,000 children a year. He’s also seen at least one wheelchair-bound kid take his first steps out of the chair toward his parents. On bad days, he thinks of days like that instead.
CSH is participating in several research projects right now, including working on an algorithm to help predict cancellations for outpatient appointments through its Center for Discovery, Innovation and Development.
“If we can better predict that, then we can better prepare to have those slots filled to make sure we’re treating the maximum number of patients. If a patient cancels that spot can go unused. If we can better predict, then we can backfill them with patients, so we see more patients in need,” Salerno said.
In a departure from prior fundraising initiatives, CSHF recruited two successful New Jersey businessmen to run the campaign.