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Wilf Family Center to Allow Exchange of Medical Ideas

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL — Ideas and advancements in pediatric health care will be able to be shared and received across the state, nation and globe after the unveiling of the Wilf Family Center at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.

Vikings Owners Zygi and Mark Wilf on Wednesday toured the Wilf Family Center that was made possible by a $5 million gift from the Wilf Family Foundation in December 2013.

"For several generations our family has recognized the importance of supporting education and health-related causes, and this gift allowed us to bring together so many different aspects that are meaningful to us," Chairman Zygi Wilf said. "This space will allow the experts here in Minnesota to easily share their ideas and research with a larger audience throughout the region and the world and further engage in conversations regarding children's health."

The Wilfs said they've seen the great research and work accomplished by the hospital during their 10 years of owning the Vikings and appreciated the opportunity to continue the strong relationship with the hospital and the University of Minnesota.

"It's a great honor and privilege to be able to give back to the community," Vikings President Mark Wilf said. "We know through the Vikings what great work the Children's Hospital here does, and this center will allow medical staff and families to be able to utilize this space, communicate with medical people around the world, and it's going to be great for the children and their families here, so we're excited."

The Wilf Family Center will enable expert information to be shared among medical professionals with use of a telehealth room that allows communication between patients and medical staff in state-of-the-art video conferences. Equipment will allow the transmission of medical, imaging and health informatics data from one site to another.

It includes three conference rooms and a 203-seat auditorium that was designed to be a productive space for medical conferences, and a large video screen that can display multiple types of images and presentations at once, but also a place of comfort to patients during movie screenings. The seats and aisles were designed with electrical outlets and space for medical devices that patients might need in order to leave their room.

Mark Wilf said the goals for the Wilf Family Center are to help enhance the care that can be provided to patients and increase their comfort during treatment.

"That's really what it's all about, the children," Mark Wilf said. "This will hopefully allow them to find solutions and help families' lives be better here in Minnesota and throughout the world.

"I think any one of us has an understanding that to be in a hospital, and particularly for children, it can be such a down, that you want to make it as tolerable an experience as possible," he added. "This center, and the ability to go watch movies or spend family time with loved ones here in the hospital can make it feel as much a home as it can be and make their lives a little better."

Dr. Joseph Neglia, a pediatric cancer specialist and the Head of the Department of Pediatrics and Physician-in-Chief of the hospital, said the Wilf Family Center will enable conferencing with colleagues across the country, as well as hosting conferences. He said he appreciates the adaptability of the auditorium that considered patients during the design.

"This is going to serve as essentially the intellectual hub for children's health related activities on this campus, so it's a source for education," Neglia said. "It will be a source for family activities. It will be a way we can teleconference and video link to other centers here in the United States or around the world, and none of this would have happened without the donation from the Wilf Family Foundation. We're hugely excited about it."

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler said: "We are deeply grateful for this significant gift from the Wilf Family Foundation to provide the resources to build this amazing center and to fund its initial operation."

"Zygi and Mark, I know it is your hope, as it is ours," Kaler added, "that through this center for education — through our efforts as partners — many children will have more days to play, more nights to dream and more time to just be kids."

Since 1964, the Wilf Family Foundation has provided more than $200 million in support for educational, humanitarian, medical, religious and scientific institutions, including Minnesota-based Starkey Hearing Foundation, the United Way, the Walker Art Gallery and Jewish causes.

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