The lobby of Stony Brook's new children's hospital on Wednesday.

The lobby of Stony Brook's new children's hospital on Wednesday. Credit: James Carbone

Sixteen years after Stony Brook University Hospital saved the life of their granddaughter, the Richard family gave back with a $3.5 million donation to its new children's hospital.

Now it's Stony Brook Medicine's turn, honoring the family by naming the hospital's lobby after the Peter and Nancy Richard Family Foundation, officials said this week. Peter Richard is the longtime executive vice president of P.C. Richard & Son, a chain of appliance and electronics stores headquartered in Farmingdale.

“Peter and Nancy Richard have had a monumental impact on our Suffolk County and Long Island communities for generations,” Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. said in a news release. We “look forward to translating their philanthropy into a measurable impact on children’s lives throughout our region,” he said.

Their gift, provided in September, established the Pediatric Emergency Department Fund, helping to meet Suffolk County’s growing demand for pediatric emergency services, according to the university. The $270 million children's hospital project is part of Stony Brook Medicine's larger $450 million expansion, which includes a cancer center. There will be a community open house on Jan. 26 and the patient move-in date for the new hospital is Feb. 2.

“My parents decided that they wanted to make a big impact in the community, so they decided that Stony Brook Children’s Hospital was the perfect place to make that impact,” said Susan Richard-Habberstad, 54, of St. James, the daughter of Peter and Nancy Richard.

About 16 years ago, her daughter, Courtney Habberstad, was at a local equestrian summer camp when she was thrown from her horse, Richard-Habberstad said.

The 9-year-old was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital in critical condition with a lacerated spleen and shattered left kidney. She lost 75 percent of her blood and had to have transfusion after transfusion, Richard-Habberstad said.

A display in the lobby of Stony Brook's new children's...

A display in the lobby of Stony Brook's new children's hospital on Wednesday. Credit: James Carbone

“It was absolutely devastating,” she recalled. “It was the most traumatic experience of my life. I was feeling that my world was caving in and it was awful.”

The hospital staff saved her life. “Courtney is now 25 years old and she has absolutely no side effects from the accident and she is in perfect health,” she said.

Richard-Habberstad has since worked with the hospital helping to raise awareness and funds for the children’s hospital.

“I felt that I had to give back in some way, and I am so very grateful that my family has embraced the initiative of the new children’s hospital,” she said.

The Richard family during a ceremony honoring them on Oct....

The Richard family during a ceremony honoring them on Oct. 5 in the lobby of Stony Brook's new children's hospital. Credit: Stony Brook University

Stony Brook first opened a children's hospital in 2010, the first and only children’s hospital in Suffolk County. It includes a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, a Level 1 pediatric trauma center, a pediatric intensive care unit, a state-designated burn center, an inpatient pediatric psychiatric unit and an oncology service, according to the university. Level 1 pediatric centers and Level 3 neonatal intensive care units provide the most care.

The pediatric emergency department is on track to see 25,000 visits this year, said Margaret McGovern, the hospital’s physician-in-chief and Knapp professor of pediatrics. Over the past eight years the hospital has been working to recruit staff, and it now has more than 180 pediatric physicians trained in 30 pediatric specialties, she said. 

The new 150-bed children's hospital will be housed within a recently built 10-story hospital pavilion, and it includes single-patient rooms, family suites and playrooms.

“The whole thing was just really designed with kids and their families in mind,” McGovern said. “We really couldn't have done this without the support of the community and people like the Richard family, who have been amazing supporters.”

It was an emotional experience for Peter Richard, who saw his family's name on the lobby at an Oct. 5 ceremony and preview the university held for them. 

“It brings tears to my eyes,” Richard said in the release. “I’m proud that I really did something to help sick children and their families.”

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