When Norma Vinick was a child, she had her tonsils removed at Springfield Hospital, today known as Baystate Medical Center. After a successful procedure, she was promised ice cream to soothe her aching throat.
“I never, ever, ever saw ice cream,” shared Norma with a laugh in a 2015 interview.
Sixty or so years after her hospital experience, Norma met then-Baystate Health President & CEO, Mark Tolosky, at an event. She shared her story of missing out on ice cream and how she lost her treasured bunny stuffed animal while she was in the hospital. A few days later, Norma received a gift from Mark – a Baystate Children’s Hospital Bandy Bear stuffed animal and a gift certificate for ice cream at Friendly’s.
A friendship bloomed from there.
Norma’s relationship with Baystate Health began long before that, with memories and experiences that impacted her throughout her life.
A Witness to Compassion
In April 1951, Norma’s grandmother was hospitalized at Springfield Hospital. During visits, Norma became aware of a terminally ill elderly woman in the room across the hall. The woman had no family or visitors to spend time with her during her final days. But, there was a bright light for this patient. A medical resident had developed a special connection with his patient. After his long shifts, Norma would notice that he would come back and sit with the woman, keeping her company in the evenings.
The compassion and kindness of this young medical resident remained a vivid memory with Norma for over half a century. In the years prior to her passing in October 2019, Norma quietly shared what she witnessed and spoke of the importance of a good medical education. Norma and her husband Bernard (Bernie) relied on Baystate Health for care throughout their lives, and Baystate Medical Center became the couple’s hospital. As the years went on so did their healthcare experiences, Baystate Health Foundation became one of their favorite charities. Making regular donations became their way of saying thank you to the care providers, especially the medical residents.
“You are not just in the background, you’re it,” she shared with a group of residents after making a Gift of Gratitude to support their work a few years ago. “You’re there and we love you and appreciate you.”
The couple both had a desire to support healthcare team members who make a difference in our patients’ lives and made this evident through expressions of gratitude and with their generosity. Though she and Bernie are no longer with us, their support for those who provide care and enhance the lives of those they serve will live on forever at Baystate Health. Through their estate plans, they created endowed funds to support Baystate Medical Center as well as medical residents to further educational opportunities, research and learning experiences.
The generosity and meaningful support of Norma and Bernie Vinick help continue the work being done at Baystate Health through support of the endowment. These contributions will provide funding long after the initial gift is made and ensure that quality healthcare can be experienced and provided by generations to come.
For Norma, Baystate Health and its teams of professionals she came to know over the years, held a special place in her heart
“Baystate has always been there for us,” she shared during a visit with friends at Baystate.
And through their endowed legacy gifts, Norma and Bernie’s support will always be there for Baystate.