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Northampton’s Cooley Dickinson Hospital: Building for the Future


NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts (WGGB) — If you’ve lived in and around Northampton for any length of time, there’s a good chance you’ve been to Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Like other health care facilities, it’s dealt with it’s share of cuts. But it continues to make a difference meeting health care needs and is building for the future.

The Cooley Dickinson Hospital of today is much different from the small facility built on Elm Street in 1886, all thanks to the estate of Caleb Dickinson. The original hospital was built at a cost of 15 thousand dollars. It was dedicated to the care of the poor and accommodated 12 patients.
Today, CDH is looking to the next 125 years and is in the midst of an $8.2 million campaign focuses on two areas: cancer care and nursing. The hospital plans is investing $15 million in a unified cancer center where direct care, support services, radiation, chemotherapy and other aspects of cancer treatment will be consolidated. JoAnne Finck, the campaign chair says, “We are going to build our center around the patient, the patient and patient care versus having the patient sort of work their way around the hospital in terms of going from place to place.”

Mary Ellen Walsh, director of the Cancer Care Program, says the campaign will help CDH move these services into a consolidated area, something that’s much more dedicated. Patients and their families will be able to walk into the cancer care center and see all of these services in one place.

The campaign will also help Cooley Dickinson create nurse development programs that will pass the skills of its most experienced nurses on to the next generation. Joanne Finck says, “Sometimes it’s just a skill set that you can’t learn in a book, it’s something that you sort of by training, or just an innate sense and if they can relay that to younger nurses, I think that’s a win-win for everyone.”

The Building Our Future campaign runs for another year and there’s still a lot of money to be raised. To help achieve the goal, the Young at Heart chorus will perform a benefit concert at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, Sunday afternoon October 30th at 3 pm. They’ll be joined by the Northamptones and the UMass Dynamics.

It’s all part of the effort to help Cooley Dickinson Hospital continue to meet the health care needs of the people of greater Northampton and beyond. As Mary Ellen Walsh says, “It’s always a privilege treating our family, friends and neighbors and that’s what we do.”