[img_assist|nid=612|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=168|height=112]NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – 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 and nurse development programs.
JoAnne Finck announced the news that the campaign is nearly halfway toward its goal Thursday at a 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.
President and CEO Craig N. 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 more than 20 consecutive years of operating in the black, a rarity of U.S. hospitals.
"Once, our facilities were so inadequate we could not attract physicians to care for our community. 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," Melin said.
"Today we continue the tradition of philanthropy," Finck said, "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 their 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.
Unified Cancer Center The Center, part of a $15 million overall investment in cancer services, will consolidate a patient's physicians and care providers, support services and treatment areas, including access to lab work, imaging, radiation, chemotherapy and rehabilitation, into a single, well-coordinated welcoming place.
Benefits to people living with a cancer diagnosis and their families and friends include simplifying lives by saving time and reducing travel, improving overall patient safety and patient outcomes; increasing communication among care givers and relieving stress for patients.
The Cancer Center will consolidate and coordinate CDH's existing oncologic services, including the Vitkauskus Crowe Radiation Oncology Center. Cooley Dickinson's collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center continues to provide easier access to Mass General Cancer Center specialists, genetic testing and counseling, timely referrals for second opinions and improved coordination of care.
For patients undergoing radiation oncology treatments, the Vitkauskus Crowe Radiation Oncology Center and advanced technology available there can significantly shorten daily treatment times. The Elekta Synergy delivers the radiation dose more precisely to a tumor while minimizing the impact to the surrounding healthy tissue. "With the Elekta Synergy and its many features designed to benefit patients, we can treat cancer more precisely and aggressively than ever before," said Linda Bornstein, MD, chief of radiation oncology.
Nurse Development Programs Leesa-Lee Keith, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Cooley Dickinson, reports that over the next five years, more than 30% of CDH's most experienced, veteran nurses will be retiring.
Many of these nurses work in specialty areas, such as Surgical Day Care or leadership positions. Keith says while hospitals across the nation are facing this tremendous loss of knowledge and experience, "CDH is addressing this situation in a way that sets the organization apart from other hospitals. To ensure our patients receive the highest quality of care possible, we are creating Specialty Area Internships and a Leadership Development Institute."
These internships will support and train mid-career nurses, building upon their strong foundation of skills, so they gain the specialized knowledge, expertise, and confidence to replace the nurses who will be retiring. During the yearlong internships, mid-career nurses will work closely with and learn from veteran nurses. "Our goal is to fund approximately 20 nurse interns over the next five years."
"The new institute will train future nurse leaders. In the same way we expect our staff to learn best clinical practices, we will educate nurse leaders in best leadership practices. Studies show that leadership training improves retention of nurse leaders as well as all nursing staff," said Keith.
About Cooley Dickinson Hospital Serving communities in Western Massachusetts, Cooley Dickinson features centers of excellence in such specialties as orthopedics, cardiology, cancer care and minimally invasive surgery. A staff of 1750 professionals and 400 affiliated physicians comprise an integrated network of emergency, surgical, clinical, rehabilitative, hospice and home care expertise that treats 40,000 emergency patients per year, delivers 800 babies, and collaborates with Massachusetts General Hospital to deliver comprehensive cancer care. Cooley Dickinson's vision is to be the nation's premier not-for-profit community hospital, able to provide local access to the most advanced clinical treatments in a caring and neighborly setting. Nationally recognized for effective, innovative attention to patient safety, Cooley Dickinson Hospital meets the highest standards of bringing medical advances to local communities by truly providing "excellence next door. Learn more at www.cooley-dickinson.org.
Cooley Dickinson Hospital • 30 Locust St. (Route 9), Northampton, Mass. • (413) 582-2000