Addison Gilbert Hospital’s largest philanthropic gift of the last two centuries arrived in a simple white envelope, hand delivered by a donor with deep appreciation for compassionate, expert care from the hospital for many years. The gift—more than $1.3M—will support expanding critically needed cardiology services for Cape Ann families.

Yvonne Wood, a seasonal resident of Rockport for more than 30 years, was motivated to make the gift in gratitude for the care her late husband repeatedly received at Addison Gilbert’s Emergency Department over the last years of his life. Her magnanimous gesture was a gift from the heart. Recently, the hospital dedicated the Walter and Yvonne Wood Cardiology Diagnostic Suite, which is expected to open to patients by the end of 2022.

Initially, Yvonne met with hospital leaders to determine Addison Gilbert’s greatest needs. Upon hearing that access to vital cardiology services was a growing challenge for the community, the donor did not hesitate to direct her efforts there. She learned about the aging population and high rates of chronic heart conditions in Essex County and realized this was where her gift would provide the greatest good. Leaders outlined the clinical enhancements that would be needed. Yvonne, who loves to see projects through from start to finish, enthusiastically concluded, “Let’s make this happen!”

Under the leadership of longtime, beloved Cape Ann cardiologist Dr. Michael Arsenian, and with the generous philanthropic investment from many Cape Ann benefactors, Addison Gilbert opened a beautiful, modern Cardiology Suite in 2015. The suite united wide-ranging cardiology services all under one roof, conveniently bringing expert clinical care and needed testing to underserved populations on Cape Ann.

This transformational gift will enable the Cardiology Suite to more than double its existing footprint. The project will allow Dr. Arsenian and his colleague Dr. Edward Loughery to provide expanded diagnostic testing and important services to patients locally. The efficient design includes three new exam rooms; new physician offices; a nuclear camera room and “hot lab” with lead-lined walls for storing the radioactive imaging agents; a stress room to elevate a patient’s heart rate and an echocardiogram testing room.

“We greatly appreciate Yvonne’s leadership and partnership with our non-profit hospital,” said Tom Sands, President of Beverly and Addison Gilbert Hospitals, at the dedication ceremony. “Healthcare is a complex industry, but at Addison Gilbert Hospital, we keep it simple: providing the highest quality of care and patient experience possible. Access to care is a critical element of the patient experience, and with the opening of the new cardiology suite, we begin the next phase in our role as a dynamic community health provider.”

The expanded suite will allow patients to be seen and undergo diagnostic testing earlier and more easily. “Thanks to this generous gift, we will be able to efficiently assess more patients and identify those who would benefit from immediate interventions,” said Dr. Loughery. “Moreover, the impressive new suite—with expanded space and state-of-the-art equipment— will enable us to recruit additional dynamic and expertly trained providers. We could not have developed this next level of care without the support of philanthropy.”

Whether for urgent or chronic needs, patients deserve the best possible care close to home. “Families on Cape Ann are very loyal to their community and to their community hospital,” said Dr. Loughery. “As stewards of local cardiology care, we must strategically build for the future, assuring patients have access to the quality care they need and deserve. Thanks to Yvonne’s incredible generosity, these expanded services and precise diagnostic tools will help to recruit a new generation of cardiologists to care for this beloved community.” Addison Gilbert is proud to have been repeatedly recognized for its high standards of care by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

To Yvonne, the act of giving was deeply rewarding; she gave back in gratitude while also paying it forward for all the families of Cape Ann who rely on Addison Gilbert. “I love that little hospital!” she stated. Yvonne, in addition to being a professional artist, is well versed in history and literature. Yvonne enclosed an inspirational quote along with her gift in that plain white envelope. She shared the words of famous educator Horace Mann: “I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words, be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” Today, Yvonne is realizing her vision to make life a little better for her friends and neighbors, who also rely on that little hospital she came to love.

December 2020