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Upstate opens new center to serve children with special needs

Upstate Medical University

Upstate University Hospital now has a centralized home to serve children with special needs. Streamlining services for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities has been a long time goal of Upstate, according to Dr. Henry Roane, director of the new Golisano Center for Special Needs.

“We wanted a center where if a child came at 2 1/2 years old and that’s where they received their initial diagnosis, we wanted that to be the same place where they came back and saw their developmental pediatrician and where they came back if they needed any follow up and care,” said Roane.

The new center is located in the Madison-Irving Medical Center, and consolidates several departments and specialty areas that were previously spread out across Upstate’s campus. 

“Two years ago they were in three different sites,” Roane said. “And the providers sometimes communicated, but not like I can walk two doors down and talk to the developmental pediatrician, like I can now.”

The facility brings a new feeding disorder specialist and more staffers to work on physical therapy and sensory motor processing and play, as well as other researchers and specialists. Roane said the facility will make it easier for families to get care for their children, going as far as having a special waiting room.

"We also built a room off the side of the waiting room that’s a patient waiting room. So if a child starts to get upset and anxious about a prolonged rate, there’s a room to the side they can go that’s quiet with lower light and a calming area."

Post-COVID, Roane expects 15,000 visits a year at the center, from people who come from a 20-county area stretching from the Pennsylvania border to the North Country. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.