VALHALLA, NY-There was cause for celebration as well as somber reflection at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $175 million Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and Trauma Center at the campus of Westchester Medical Center on Tuesday.

The new 250,000 sf facility, designed by NBBJ of Columbus, OH, is named after Maria Fareri, a 13-year-old Greenwich CT, youngster who passed away five years ago after contracting rabies from a bat bite.

“Today, we break ground for the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and new regional Trauma Center and begin building a world-class facility like no other on the East Coast, for the children and adults of the Hudson Valley and beyond,” says Edward Stolzenberg, president and chief executive officer of Westchester Medical Center. “At Westchester Medical Center we already have physicians and nursing staff who are among the best in the world, and soon we will have a facility that will be of equal quality.”

The hospital and trauma center, when completed by the spring of 2003, will include a separate children’s emergency department; a family resource center where parents can obtain information about disease and treatments from a variety of sources including online computer searches; consultation rooms, food court and community conference center; kitchen facilities, a children’s pre-operative learning center and 60 pediatric rooms.

As part of The Westchester Medical Center campus, the children’s hospital will have the region’s only Pediatric Intensive Care and Neonatal Intensive Care units Cystic Fibrosis Center, Children’s Cancer Center and the region’s largest pediatric cardiology and pediatric cardiac surgery programs, hospital officials relate.

At the ceremony, a number of state and county government officials including: Lt. Governor Mary O. Donohue, New York State Health Commissioner Antonia Novella as well as Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano were among the more than 1,000 attendees.

However, the highlight of the groundbreaking ceremony was the speech by Brenda Fareri, the mother of Maria, who told the gathering that her daughter had “many wishes and dreams,” and that one of her wishes was to assure the health of children. She says that the work at the new children’s hospital will allow her daughter’s memory to live on.

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