Sebastian Ferrero remembered at ceremony for children’s hospital entrance

THE GAINESVILLE SUN – Sebastian Ferrero remembered at ceremony for children’s hospital entrance.

In a room named for their late son, Horst and Luisa Ferrero stood before a crowd of UF Health Shands Hospital staff, community leaders and media and recalled a day seven years ago.

By Christopher Curry
Staff writer

In a room named for their late son, Horst and Luisa Ferrero stood before a crowd of UF Health Shands Hospital staff, community leaders and media and recalled a day seven years ago.

On that day in October 2007, they brought 3-year-old Sebastian, a happy, healthy boy who was short for his age, to the Pediatric Clinic at the Shands Medical Plaza for routine tests to determine if he had a growth hormone disorder.

During those tests, Sebastian received a dose of the amino acid arginine that was more than 10 times the correct amount, a tragic error that went unnoticed by hospital staff because of a series of “preventable medical mistakes,” Horst Ferrero said.

Two days later, Sebastian Ferrero died.

Determined to help protect other children and families from similar tragedies, the Ferreros launched the nonprofit Sebastian Ferrero Foundation to help raise the money and awareness needed to bring a dedicated children’s hospital to Gainesville instead of the pediatric care facility located in the larger Shands medical complex.

While some thought their campaign for a children’s hospital was only the “dream of a grieving couple,” Horst Ferrero said the couple were determined to use their son’s death as a “catalyst for change” to improve patient safety and quality of care.

On Wednesday, their combined effort with UF Health Shands officials reached a significant milestone. A morning ceremony marked the completion of an $11 million construction project at the UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital that includes a new brightly colored facade, a separate entrance from the rest of Shands and a new lobby area in the Sebastian Ferrero Atrium.

“Today represents that dreams can come true, and thank you for dreaming with us,” Luisa Ferrero told the gathered audience.

At the event, the Ferreros were joined by their three sons, Sergio, 8, Santiago, 6 and Stefano, 4, who wore brightly colored canvas sneakers and matching gray suits.

Those brightly colored sneakers fit in well with the new look of the children’s hospital.

The red brick facade is now covered by an array of blue, purple, red and yellow panels. On the lower floors, aqua-colored glass windows mark the exterior of the new pavilion.

On the floor inside, vivid patterns of blue, purple and pink lead from the entrance into the children’s hospital. Brightly colored tiles and nature-themed art span the walls. An interactive video screen stretches across the walls.

Inside the atrium stands renowned artist Romero Britto’s sculpture, Tomorrow, which depicts a boy in a red, orange and yellow striped shirt and green polka-dot pants reaching upward for a colorful butterfly.

Before the ceremony moved into the atrium, Dr. David Guzick, the senior vice president for Health Affairs at UF and president of UF Health, stood at a podium in front of the renovated facade and contrasted the hospital’s new “visual identity” with the old “cramped, dark, uninviting lobby.”

The hospital, Guzick said, now is a “bright, airy space that says ‘welcome, you are in the children’s hospital, we will take care of you.’ ”

The separate entrance was a priority for UF Health Shands officials, who said children and their families should never again have to go through the same entrance as adult patients.

During their comments, Guzick, UF Health Shands interim CEO Ed Jimenez, Department of Pediatrics Chair Scott Rivkees and Thomas J. Mitchell, the UF vice president for Development and Alumni Affairs, each took time to praise Horst and Luisa Ferrero for showing determination that, in the words of Guzick, “galvanized the community.”

Likewise, the Ferreros praised Guzick and other UF Health officials for sharing their vision and working to make the children’s hospital a reality.

Construction on the new facade, entrance, pavilion and atrium started in April 2013. Ponikvar and Associates was the architect, and Ajax Building Corporation was the builder.

The changes are part of an ongoing effort launched in the hospital’s 2010 strategic plan to bring together and consolidate services that developed in what Guzick has described as a “patchwork” or “checkerboard” pattern over the decades.

To date, the projects built through that plan have had combined costs of about $135 million. They have included renovations of the pediatric emergency room, cancer unit, intensive care unit and congenital heart center.

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8th Annual Noche de Gala Preview

WCJB-TV 20 – GAINESVILLE, Fla. — With one of North Central Florida’s biggest fundraisers just around the corner, organizers of Noche de Gala are previewing the event.

The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation and UF Health s\Shands officials hosted the preview today at the children’s hospital.

The event featured a preview of the silent auction items.

Horst and Luisa Ferrero created the foundation in 2007 after their three-year-old son Sebastian passed due to medical errors.

The foundation raises money for programs to improve pediatric health care.

Several families with their own children as patients attended the preview.

The 8th annual Noche de Gala will take place on Saturday, October 24th at 7 P.M. in Micanopy.

Click here to watch the complete coverage by TV-20.

7th Annual Noche De Gala Has Guests “Amped”

WCJB-TV 20 – It was a rockin’ party for a good cause Saturday night. The 7th annual Noche De Gala promised good food and great entertainment all to support children and their families at UF Health.

Around one thousand people attended the event, hosted by the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation.

While people enjoyed the food and live music, the parents of Sebastian Ferrero say they are most excited to keep the memory of their 3 year old son alive.

Sabastian Ferrero passed away in October, 2007 as a result of a medication overdose at Shands Hospital.

The foundation has pledged over $7.5 million to support pediatric care.

This year the foundation celebrated the opening of the Sebastian Ferrero Atrium and lobby of the new UF Health Children’s Hospital.

Click here to watch the complete coverage by TV-20.

Sebastian Ferrero Foundation Hosts Noche De Gala Preview

WCJB-TV20 – One of North Central Florida’s largest fund raisers is less than two weeks away.

The Fourth annual Noche de Gala event will take place October 22nd.

Supporters of the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation came out Tuesday to share details of what the special night will include.

It will feature a horse show, a silent auction, and a few other surprises.

This year’s proceeds will benefit the Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida.

Tickets are $450 each. The foundation is expecting close to a thousand people to attend.

For more information about the event, visit

Click here to watch the complete coverage by TV-20.

The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation on Saturday Announced a $1.5 Million Gift

THE GAINESVILLE SUN – The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation on Saturday announced a $1.5 million gift to support the Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida.

Foundation founders Horst and Luisa Ferrero made the announcement during the fourth annual Noche de Gala fundraising event chaired by Silvia and Benjamin Leon Jr. on Saturday evening at the Leon’s grounds in north Marion County.

The foundation supports improved patient safety initiatives at Shands at the University of Florida and a full-service hospital dedicated to children.

“In memory of our son, we are proud to provide this gift to help advance future phases of the Shands Hospital for Children at UF,” Luisa Ferrero said in a news release.

Shands UF recently named Randy Harmatz director of the new Sebastian Ferrero Office of Clinical Quality and Patient Safety, named in memory of 3-year-old Sebastian.

“The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation continues its amazing support for UF&Shands, our patient safety initiatives and our dedication to children’s health care services,” UF President Bernie Machen said in the release.

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UF&SHANDS to Begin Addition to Children’s Hospital

UF&Shands Health System and the UF Academic Health Center have committed to creating a new entry pavilion and lobby for the Shands Hospital for Children.

According to David Guzick, UF senior vice president for health affairs and president of UF&Shands Health System, these plans for construction will be the hospital’s fundraising project for the upcoming year.

“We’re currently viewing federal design concepts for a two-story atrium leading into a dedicated lobby area for the children’s hospital,” Guzick said during a press conference Wednesday.

The new additions to the hospital, which include the lobby, a children’s atrium, an entrance pavilion and a themed donor wall, will be located near the east parking garage. Guzick said the gift shop and the bathrooms in the current entrance will be demolished and rebuilt in a different spot to create a much more generous lobby.

Guzick said he hopes the exterior of the lobby and the two-story pavillion will generate interest among a variety of artists. He said he wants to find the best way to represent the children’s hospital.

According to Guzick, the project is estimated to cost $8 million to $9 million and will be the main focus of the fifth annual Noche de Gala, which is a fundraising event hosted by the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation.

Horst and Luisa Ferrero, the founders of the foundation, were present at the press conference to announce this year’s gala would benefit the hospital’s new lobby.

This year’s Noche de Gala will be held Sept. 29.
“We’re proud to have a strong partnership with UF&Shands and proud of all the milestones we have achieved together,” Horst Ferrero said.

Last year, the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation worked with UF&Shands to open the Pediatric Emergency Room at Shands Hospital for Children in July.

UF President Bernie Machen expressed his gratitude to the Ferreros for all their foundation has done for UF&Shands.
“They are the real inspiration behind what we’ve been doing here,” Machen said, “and their contributions to Shands and to our community have been noted for a number of years. We really wouldn’t be here without them.”

Guzick said the project is in the general conceptual design phase now, but he hopes to begin construction in two to three months.

“We can only do this with philanthropy,” Guzick said. There are funds set aside for the project, but he said he hopes to raise money for at least half the cost.

“We’re really indebted to the Ferreros and the commitment they’ve shown,” Guzick said.

Ferrero Foundation donates $1.5M to Shands Hospital for Children.