20 Years In The Making: How RWJUH Bristol Myers-Squibb Children’s Hospital Is Celebrating This Milestone Birthday


Celebrating a milestone birthday is always a cause for celebration, but when it’s a children’s hospital providing nationally recognized care to the children and families of New Jersey for two decades, well then, that’s major.  Since 2001, The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital (BMSCH) at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) brings together clinical research, the latest therapies, and the nation’s top physicians and nurses to treat complex pediatric illness. And in recognition for their top-notch dedication and cutting-edge work, BMSCH was named among America’s Best Children’s Hospitals by U.S. News & World Report six times. As if that’s not enough to give accolades, there’s another reason why BMSCH is celebrating—The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation has committed to providing $2.5 million for a dedicated pediatric infusion center for outpatient biologic drug treatments at the hospital. Read on to see what this means for all children in NJ and the impact BMSCH has had over the last 20 years. 

Featured Photo Credit: BMSCH at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital


Celebrating 20 Years Photo Credit: BMSCH at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

A Leader for Caring For Kids

In the twenty years since its inception, BMSCH at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has been the centerpiece in New Brunswick’s growing children’s health campus, which includes Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Child Health Institute of New Jersey, PSE& G Children’s Specialized Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and the Embrace Kids Foundation. This 105-bed, kids-only, state-designated, acute care children’s hospital is a state-of-the-art facility designed for kids and their parents to find a refuge while being treated for complex conditions. BSMCH provides comprehensive care—from pediatric surgery, urology, and cardiology to oncology, hematology, pulmonology, neonatology, and pediatric trauma/emergency care—for children from birth through adolescence. In addition, BSMCH has New Jersey’s first designated pediatric trauma center and an internationally recognized adolescent bariatric surgery center of excellence. Plus, BMSCH is one of only two hospitals in New Jersey to provide pediatric ECMO, a mechanic system that pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside of the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest in the most critically ill newborns and children. “The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital is at the center of a true pediatric academic health campus,” says Sally Radovick, MD, Physician-in-Chief, BMSCH, Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Combined with biomedical research at the Rutgers Child Health Institute and the PSE&G Children’s Specialized Hospital’s advanced pediatric rehabilitation care, we are uniquely positioned for future breakthroughs in research and treatment.”


10-year-old Elli Pizzulli was treated at BMSCH in 2018 after a biking accident led to a blood clot requiring emergency brain surgery. Photo Credit: John O’Boyle

How BMSCH Makes Kids Feel At Ease

Beyond the specialties, BMSCH takes patient care to another level. With the state’s largest Child Life Program, there is a crucial support system for children and their families during what can be an anxious and frightening time. “The focus of the program is to help meet the psychological and social-emotional needs of children and their families in the hospital,” says Barbara Romito, Director of The Child Life Program at BMSCH. “The specialists work in age-appropriate ways to prepare, distract, and relax patients. They normalize the environment, address the fears, and provide comfort from any anxieties they might have.” Over the last two decades, the program has grown to include creative arts therapy, a Family-Centered Care Initiative that helps the patient and family with patient policies and all aspects of care, and pet therapy, bringing furry friends into patients’ rooms. The mission is to care for the whole child, from prepping them through treatment to practicing chair yoga to address the important mind-body connection. “For any child who comes to the hospital—whether it be for a day or long term—a Child Life Specialist will be there to guide them emotionally and psychosocially through the entire hospital stay,” she says.


Joey Cenci, an active 14-year-old from Highland Park was diagnosed with double pneumonia caused by MRSA and underwent emergency surgery at BMSCH in 2015. Photo Credit: BMSCH at Robert Wood Johnson Hospital

A Gift For a Bright Future

Perhaps the best way to mark this momentous occasion is with an eye towards the future—and the $2.5 million commitment from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation will take this excellent care to an even higher level. “The Bristol Myers Squibb foundation’s unwavering support of our children’s health mission over the past twenty years is truly remarkable,” said Bill Arnold, President, and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “They continue to be our steadfast partner at BMSCH and will again help transform our ability to deliver the latest, essential therapies to children in New Jersey and the region.” The gift will be towards building a dedicated pediatric infusion center so the youngest patients can receive outpatient biologic drug treatments at BMSCH. Such treatments are becoming standard of care in gastroenterology, rheumatology, genetics, neurology and nephrology, and others. What this means is that kids who need these services will receive family-centered care during short or long-term infusion therapy, therapeutic injections, sedation, or provocative stimulation testing for acute and chronic illnesses. With a dedicated center steps away from the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, infants, children, and adolescents receiving infusions will have highly skilled and personalized care in a convenient, outpatient setting, giving their families a sanctuary in a time of stress. “The need for a pediatric infusion center will only expand over the coming years, and this generous gift will place us at the forefront in treatment modalities,” said William Faverzani, vice president and Chief Administrative Officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. “We are so grateful that the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation continues to support our mission to improve children’s health as we enter our third decade, as they have for the past 20 years.” It’s yet another example of how BSMCH puts kids and their families first and will continue to provide spaces and innovation for their youngest patients to heal. So, join them in celebrating—giving hope and healing to all children in NJ is a milestone we all can get behind.

This post is sponsored by RWJBarnabas Health to help make every #NJMOM and her family their healthiest.

About Author

Lisa Cohen Lee is a freelance writer, editor, and mom to a tween-age boy based in Summit, NJ. Her work has appeared in print and online, including Glamour, Self, Woman’s Day, O The Oprah Magazine, NY Post, NJ Monthly, Allure.com, Prevention.com, and Brit + Co, among others. A Garden State native, Lisa is always on the lookout for new local adventures and events to entertain her son and husband. Most days, you can find her chauffeuring her son around town and trolling the coolest coffee houses for #NJMOM fuel.