Fundraisers at hospitals call philanthropists like Betsy and Stephen Corman “grateful patients” because they give back generously to the institutions that provided them with excellent care during an illness.
After 60 years of combined service at IBM working in marketing and service, the Cormans decided that they would not spend their retirement on some beach in the Caribbean, but at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, where Stephen Corman was successfully treated for prostate cancer.
Starting in 2000, they used their organizational skills culled from years in business to create support groups for prostate cancer patients and work with the hospital’s oncology department to guide those patients on the path to recovery or comfort them in their final days. Today, they continue to log thousands of hours as volunteers doing everything from counseling patients to providing hand-knitted shawls for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
What interested the Cormans most was palliative care, a program that addresses all aspects of a critical illness including physical, spiritual and emotional. Palliative care is often misunderstood. While hospice care comes at the end of a patient’s life, palliative care can come at any time during an illness.
Betsy Corman had experienced first-hand the value of the cancer support group at the hospital during her husband’s illness. “I believe there is great comfort, security, and re-assurance for a family to have knowledgeable, caring people who can help families cope with what is going on medically, emotionally, financially, and practically, “ she said.
Earlier this year, the Cormans made a $1 million gift to expand the palliative care program at Greenwich Hospital well beyond what was offered in hospice services. Now any patient with a life-changing diagnosis that will have a profound impact on his life can receive palliative care.
The Greenwich Hospital program is run by a doctor and includes nurses, social workers and the chaplain. “The need is growing every day,” commented Donna Coletti, the physician who leads the palliative-care program. All the departments at the hospital and patients of all ages now benefit from the Cormans’ gift, which was earmarked particularly for training staff.
“The Cormans’ gift allows patients and their families to explore with specialists the options for care that are available to them. They have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of all therapies with respect not only to their medical implications, but also the impact on the quality of their lives, “she added.
Betsy and Stephen Corman believe that support of regional hospitals such as Greenwich is essential at a time when many are closing because of lack of funding. “These hospitals are vital to our communities,” she pointed out. “We are pleased to be in the financial position to provide Greenwich Hospital with a palliative care program that benefits all of its patients. We were fortunate to have the outstanding patient care at Greenwich when Stephen was diagnosed with prostate cancer so we want to make sure other patients have the same experience,” she added.
Frank Corvino, President and CEO of Greenwich Hospital, said: “The Corman’s remarkable generosity will have a direct impact on our Hospital’s ability to improve the quality of life for our patients affected by serious illness. This gift provides us an opportunity to expand and enhance the care we offer and to provide it to more of our patients who need it.”