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May 2, 2006

$7 million gift to advance emergency medicine at U-M, fund center in new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

Sorini Family Children's Emergency Medicine Center, endowed professorship to further local couple's commitment to emergency medicine and children

ANN ARBOR, MI – Providing the highest quality of compassionate emergency medical care, especially to children, has been an important goal for Ernest J. Sorini, M.D., since he began working in the field 30 years ago.

Ernest and Kelly Sorini
Ernest and Kelly Sorini

It was his dedication to the field that led him to create an innovative business model that not only helped to reduce costs and deliver higher-quality care, but also to substantially reduce patient waiting times in emergency departments across Michigan. Since then, his 30-minute guarantee has become a national model for emergency care.

Now Ernest Sorini, and his wife and business partner Kelly Sorini, of Ann Arbor, Mich., will further their commitment to advancing emergency medicine practices and the care of critically ill and injured children through a $7 million gift to the University of Michigan Health System.

As part of the $7 million gift, $2 million will fund an endowed professorship in the Medical School – to be known as the Ernest John Sorini, M.D. Professorship in Emergency Medicine – and $5 million will create the Sorini Family Children’s Emergency Medicine Center in the new U-M C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital facility.

The schematic design for the $523 million, 1.1 million square foot children’s hospital and women’s hospital facility received approval from the U-M Board of Regents in February. UMHS plans to break ground in the fall, and the building is set to be complete in spring 2011.

“The Sorini Family Children’s Emergency Medicine Center will be an extraordinary space in our new children’s hospital, and a model for pediatric medicine in this country,” says Robert P. Kelch, M.D., U-M executive vice president for medical affairs, CEO of the U-M Health System. “Michigan today is a leader in emergency medicine, and we are excited and proud that Ernest and Kelly’s gift will become a testament to outstanding emergency medical care at U-M now and into the future.”

Ernest and Kelly Sorini have seven children, including a newborn. As busy parents with a large and active family, the couple say they hope the new Sorini Family Children’s Emergency Medical Center will honor their children by helping the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital set the national standard for children’s emergency medicine – and most importantly, be a source of hope and comfort for families both near and far, as well as inspire others to follow their lead by supporting the U-M Health System.

“As parents, we know that when you have a sick child that needs to go to the emergency room, it’s only natural to feel frightened and somewhat vulnerable,” says Ernest Sorini. “We wanted to do something to help assure parents that, in the unfortunate event they find themselves in such a crisis, the care their children will receive at the U-M will be of the highest quality and the most compassionate possible.”

Continues Kelly Sorini: “Ernie and I are absolutely passionate about children, and we want to do everything possible to improve the medical care they receive.  So when we decided to turn our passion into something more concrete, it seemed only natural to turn our attention to the University of Michigan, and to invest in enhancing what is already a leading center for children’s health.”

By establishing the first endowed professorship in Emergency Medicine at U-M, the Sorinis also are helping to set the stage for new research they hope will reduce injury and disease, especially among children, as well as train the highest quality emergency medicine physicians to provide expert and compassionate emergency care.

Dr. Barsan“The Sorinis’ gift will be instrumental in achieving our goals of being the premier research and training program in emergency medicine and fostering efficient, expert, compassionate care to emergency patients,” notes William Barsan,M.D., professor and chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the U-M Medical School and director of the UMHS Emergency Department. “The benefit of their generous gift will be realized by countless patients and trainees in the years to come."

Once complete, the Sorini Family Children’s Emergency Medicine Center will be home to one of only two dedicated pediatric emergency medicine and urgent care centers in the state. With a separate entrance off East Medical Center Drive, the emergency center will be staffed by dedicated pediatric health care workers, and will be HAZMAT capable, allowing it to be fully prepared, like the main University Hospital’s Emergency Department, to care for patients in the event of a major outbreak or disaster. 

Additionally, the center will include more than 30 exam rooms equipped for any emergency, six large resuscitation bays that will include state-of-the-art equipment to care for the most critical cases, as well as shell space for future growth. A helipad on top of the 12-story tower will include an elevator with direct access to the pediatric emergency center.

After graduating from the Medical College of Wisconsin and studying neurosurgery at the University of Utah, Ernest Sorini decided to specialize in the field of emergency medicine, eventually working at several southeast Michigan hospital systems, including Oakwood, Trinity, Henry Ford and in Ann Arbor at U-M. 

Not too long into his career, however, Ernest Sorini realized he was spending more time dealing with organizational inefficiencies than actually caring for patients. To solve the problem, the Montana native developed an innovative business model to reduce costs, deliver quality care, and even reduce patient waiting time in the emergency department.

In 1996, he took that innovative model and, along with wife Kelly, formed the company ER-One, which today provides numerous Michigan hospitals with high-quality physicians, nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants.  The Sorinis say they attribute much of ER-One’s success to their long-time friend and business associate Don Massey, a legendary Detroit-area automobile dealer and business entrepreneur.

“Much of what we know today about customer loyalty and service excellence we learned as a result of our association with Don Massey,” says Ernie.  “We intend to apply the lessons we learned from Mr. Massey, and later fine-tuned in the medical, auto, and hotel industries, toward making the new Sorini Family Children’s Emergency Medicine Center the most efficient, patient-friendly, ‘high-tech, high-touch’ emergency department in the world, period.”

In addition to being an active partner in running ER-One and a busy mom, Kelly Sorini is a strong advocate for women’s and children’s health. Originally from Traverse City, Mich., Kelly Sorini shares a special compassion for children with her husband, and an interest in finding practical ways to reduce childhood illnesses and injuries, as well as in developing ways to better care for very ill and critically injured children.

Current Pediatric ED“Dr. Sorini and his wife, Kelly, are champions for compassionate and skilled care for children, and their gift is a true investment in the future of Michigan’s children and emergency medicine physicians,” says Marie M. Lozon, M.D., associate professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at the U-M Medical School and director Children’s Emergency Services at UMHS. “U-M is one of only two academic medical centers in the state that trains specialists in pediatric emergency medicine, and our Level 1 Trauma certification has made us the destination for the most critically ill and injured children in Michigan to receive care.”

In 2005 alone, more than 20,220 emergency visits by infants and children under age 18 were made to the U-M Children’s Emergency Services, located adjacent to the adult Emergency Department in University Hospital. More than 5,380 of these were serious trauma cases.

Demand for emergency services has risen sharply since U-M’s first dedicated children’s emergency service opened in the early 1990s; in 1997, there were 12,229 emergency visits by children under 18. Since its inception, the Survival Flight service has transported more than 20,000 critically ill newborns and children to U-M via helicopter, airplane and specially equipped ambulance. Currently, U-M has one of only three children's emergency departments in the state, staffed by specially-trained pediatric emergency physicians. It also is a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center and a national center for Pediatric Emergency Medicine Research.

To date, the U-M Health System has raised $46 million for the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Women’s Hospital building project. Its fund-raising campaign – part of the University-wide $2.5 billion The Michigan Difference campaign – is led by U-M Regent David Brandon and his wife, Jan, and U-M head football coach Lloyd Carr and his wife, Laurie, and will continue through the duration of the building project.

To learn more about the fund-raising campaign and the new building project, visit

More information about U-M Children’s Emergency Services, can be found at

Written by Krista Hopson

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