NORTHAMPTON — Through the generosity of its supporters, Cooley Dickinson Hospital has raised $4 million toward an $8.2 million fund-raising campaign that will make possible a number of initiatives, primarily a new cancer center (see story, page 9) and nurse-development programs.
JoAnne Finck announced the news that the campaign is nearly halfway toward its goal at a recent celebration of the hospital’s 125th anniversary attended by more than 200 people. The quasquicentennial celebration also served as the kickoff of the public phase of the three-year campaign, called ’Building Our Future. Right Here. Right Now.’ Finck is the campaign’s chairperson.
CDH President and CEO Craig Melin noted how fitting it is to launch a campaign to fund present and future community needs at a celebration of the hospital’s longevity, at which the generosity of founder Caleb Cooley Dickinson, whose gift created the hospital, was remembered.
In his remarks, Melin said CDH has experienced both challenges and triumphs during the hospital’s first 125 years. He contrasted more difficult times when the organization had “just three days left in cash reserves, in the early 1980s” with the current 20-plus consecutive years of operating in the black, a rarity among U.S. hospitals.
“Once, our facilities were so inadequate, we could not attract physicians to care for our community,” Melin said. “Today we offer private rooms and state-of-the art technology that helped us earn national recognition from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and the Institute of Healthcare Improvement for our successes at improving patient care.
“The community has played an absolutely integral part in sustaining the hospital and its ability to care for the sick, poor and rich alike,” he added.
Therefore, Finck said, “today we continue the tradition of philanthropy as our community hospital takes another step toward meeting our future health care needs.”
She explained that the campaign will focus primarily on two initiatives critical to the health of the community, a new unified cancer center and nurse-development programs that include specialty area internships and a leadership-development institute.
The largest gifts to date to support the campaign include a $1.7 million bequest from the estate of Northampton residents Ernest and Margaret Vitkauskus for the oncology program and a $600,000 pledge from the CDH Auxiliary.
Ernie Vitkauskus dreamed that his beloved Northampton would one day have a unified cancer center where a patient’s physicians and care providers, support services, and treatment areas were consolidated into a single, well-coordinated welcoming place. His gift will help make that possible, Finck said.
The CDH Auxiliary pledged half of its gift toward the cancer center and the balance of its $600,000 pledge as a challenge to the community to support the nurse-development program. The Auxiliary recognizes the vital importance of ensuring a well-trained corps of nurses to care for future generations of area residents. Nurse development is vital because so many experienced nurses are near retirement age and their ranks needs to be filled.
To view the historic photos or to share a memory about Cooley Dickinson Hospital, visit www.cooley-dickinson.org/125th. To make a gift, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (413) 582-2255.