Nation’s First Institute to Prepare Nurses to Care for People with Developmental Disabilities to Open at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY

Source: Nation’s First Institute to Prepare Nurses to Care for People with Developmental Disabilities to Open at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY

PITTSFORD, N.Y.Oct. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Earlier today, St. John Fisher CollegeTom Golisano, and the Golisano Foundation announced the creation of the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing thanks to a $5.8 million gift, $5 million from Tom Golisano and $800,000 from the Golisano Foundation.  The Institute will be fully integrated into Fisher’s Wegmans School of Nursing and is designed to transform the health care and support of individuals with developmental disabilities.  It will be the first institute of its kind in the country, and will have local, national, and international impact.

The Golisano Institute will be led by Dr. Dianne Cooney Miner, founding dean of the Wegmans School of Nursing, the largest enroller of nursing and mental health counseling students in the region.  The School—which consistently achieves rankings as a top nursing program in the region, state, and nation—will draw upon relationships with professional nursing associations, and partnerships with international nursing schools such as the Waterford Institute of Technology in Waterford, Ireland.  It will also capitalize on the network of Golisano Children’s Hospitals and community health centers as well as the Foundation’s collaboration with Special Olympics Health to extend the Institute’s reach.

Tom Golisano, as well as representatives from the Golisano Foundation; College officials; Special Olympics; and Wegmans School of Nursing students, faculty, and staff gathered Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement.

“We are honored to partner with the Golisano Foundation in advancing Tom’s vision for both the Rochester community and for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said President Rooney.  “This vital work and education will have an impact far beyond Rochester, and we are proud to lead the Golisano Institute.”

Since its establishment in 1985, the Golisano Foundation has worked to create a better world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through its support of Special Olympics Health and many other initiatives that promote inclusion and quality of life.  Fisher is the newest partner to join the Foundation’s vital work and mission.

“I am pleased to provide financial support for this extraordinary initiative, which will have a long-lasting, positive impact on health care for those with developmental disabilities,” said Tom Golisano. “Nurses play a critical role as primary care providers in health centers, and medical and dental practices.  By preparing the next generation of nurses and thought leaders and by creating a network of health care professionals who care for people with developmental disabilities, St. John Fisher has demonstrated a commitment to making a significant impact on improving access to both quality and inclusive health care for people who are underserved.”

Ongoing research conducted by the Special Olympics has revealed that there are significant health disparities between individuals with developmental disabilities and the general population.  The study revealed that a greater number of individuals with developmental disabilities face health issues such as tooth decay, bone deformation, and obesity. Some of those issues go untreated or undiagnosed due to the limited availability of health care services, leading to even more serious and often life-threatening conditions.  The research also points to the fact that many health care providers are inadequately trained or not trained at all to provide care and support to this population.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the barriers facing individuals with developmental disabilities is their provider’s lack of knowledge and understanding of their unique needs and challenges.

“The creation of the Golisano Institute is a major step forward in filling the gaps in access to care and ensuring inclusive health for individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Cooney Miner.  “There is a real need to develop advocacy leaders in development disability health care to encourage dialogue and promote positive change to ensure that this population receives the quality of life that they deserve.”

The Golisano Institute will deliver an internationally recognized and technology enriched curriculum for developmental disability nursing education through on-the-ground and online micro-credential formats, as well as the use of avatars and the state-of-the-art simulation lab in the School of Nursing.  Cooney Miner also noted that it will lead the effort to enhance nursing curricula in the care of individuals with developmental disabilities at the national and global level to ensure that entry level and advanced practice nursing graduates are fully prepared to care for this special population.

“The lack of inclusive curriculum for health care professionals has been identified as a critical barrier for people with intellectual disability receiving quality health care,” said Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics International. “Curriculum improvement and preparing the next generation of health professionals is one of our key strategies. To date, Special Olympics Health, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, has partnered with 41 university medical schools globally to improve their curriculum.  The design and adoption of improved inclusive nursing curriculum by the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing will prepare St. John Fisher College nursing graduates to better meet the health needs of this underserved population,  inspire others, and provide critically needed curriculum for adoption by other nursing schools.”

Through the Golisano Institute, hospitals, health centers, schools, advocacy groups, and families around the country and across the globe will also have access to a strong network of community clinical nurse specialists who will advise them on providing care for individuals with developmental disabilities.

In addition, the Golisano Summer Fellows Program will offer specialty training in developmental disability health care and policy to develop the next generation of thought leaders who will care and advocate for this unique population.  As well, current health care professionals will be exposed to best practices through a biannual national symposium bringing together expertise from health systems and health practitioners, specialty organizations along with other Golisano supported institutions including the Special Olympics.

For more information about the Golisano Institute for Developmental Disability Nursing, visit

About St. John Fisher College
St. John Fisher College is a coeducational liberal arts institution located in Pittsford, N.Y. The campus community consists of over 2,600 full-time undergraduates, nearly 200 part-time undergraduates, and over 1,000 graduate students.

Founded in 1948 by the Congregation of St. Basil as a Catholic College for men, St. John Fisher College became independent in 1968 and coeducational in 1971. As it moves through the twenty-first century, the College remains true to its Catholic and Basilian heritage. The College now offers 37 academic majors in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, business, education, and nursing, as well as 11 pre-professional programs. Fisher also offers a variety of master’s and doctoral programs.

About the Golisano Foundation
B. Thomas Golisano is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader and the founder and chairman of the Board of Paychex, a leading national provider of payroll, human resource, and benefit outsourcing solutions.  Mr. Golisano has demonstrated an ongoing dedication and commitment to a many civic issues and organizations. His personal philanthropic contributions to the Golisano Foundation, hospitals, educational institutions and other organizations now exceed $304 million. This includes gifts exceeding $37 to Special Olympics to increase year-round access to inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities world-wide.

The Golisano Foundation was founded in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000 from Tom Golisano, the founder and Chairman of Paychex. It is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted exclusively to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. The Foundation has more than $40 million in gross assets, and has awarded more than $24 million in grants, about$2 million annually, to non-profit organizations in the Rochester, New York region; Western New York and Southwest Florida.

For more information on the Foundation and Tom Golisano see

SOURCE St. John Fisher College

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