By Hellen Zaboulani
Philanthropist Marina Kellen French has donated $35 million to the Hospital for Special Surgery.
The top rated facility for musculoskeletal health and orthopedics, founded in 1863, will use the gift to undertake an impressive expansion. As reported by the NY Post, the New York institution has plans to build a new 12-story waterfront building over the FDR Drive. The $200 million project is the heart of a proposed $300 million modernization of the HSS campus.
The mini-tower, for which ground breaking is set for October, is slated to add 100,000 square feet of floor space for the hospital and provide more private patient rooms. The expansion will not add any hospital beds, but will increase the hospital’s operating capacity by about 25 percent. Operating rooms will be redone to add efficiency, and doctors’ offices and clinical and research facilities will be reconfigured.
“It positions HSS to do what we do best well into the future. It will allow us to give our patients who come from around the world the very best care through the next set of decades,” said HSS CEO, Louis A. Shapiro, who called it a “transformative” addition to the campus.
The HSS campus already includes over ten buildings on the East River between East 71st and 75th streets. The new 12-story building will connect to the hospital’s existing main building, with a third-floor sky bridge over East 71st Street. The plan received approval under the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, back in the 1990s and already has the needed permits. “We’ve owned the air rights for years and now, we’re finally able to do this,” said HSS surgeon-in-chief emeritus Dr. Thomas P. Sculco. “It will be amazing for our patients, not only for the facilities, but for the views they’ll have over the East River.” The hospital has been eyeing such a project for decades.
Sculco credited Mrs. French for making the dream a reality. “Amazing — it was in the beginning of the pandemic, [when we were] struggling to keep the hospital afloat,” he recalled. “That’s when Marina stepped up and said, ‘we want to make a difference.’ ”
“Marina has been unbelievably generous to us over the years,” Sculco said. “Her foundation’s total gifts to us, including this latest, total over $60 million.” French is vice president of her parents’ foundation, the Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Foundation. The tower will also bear her parents’ names.