BOARD OF MANAGERS
‘Over and Above’
The Board of Managers has served obstetrics and gynecology patients and nursing staff at Vincent Memorial Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital since 1891. This volunteer group, today numbering more than 30 active members, believes that a culture of philanthropy embodies more than dollars but also the gift of time and effort. As stated in our by-laws, we “provide volunteer service for the care and comfort of the Vincent staff and patients, over and above their medical needs.”
Our Early Years
Specializing in care for women, the initial Vincent Memorial Hospital also was led by women. The first two doctors were surgeon Grace Wolcott, MD, and physician Lena Ingraham, MD. At their side were nurses and a team of women known as the Board of Managers, who helped manage the daily operations of the hospital, originally located at 44 Chambers Street in Boston. This group provided items needed to make patients’ hospital stays more comfortable — vegetables and other healthful foods, cots, mattresses, linens and more — often paying for these items out of their own pockets or hosting fundraisers. They visited with patients and supported the staff. Over the decades, Vincent Memorial Hospital moved to other locations in Boston, including relocation from its South Huntington Avenue facility to Mass General in 1941, led by its first male chief of staff, Joe Vincent Meigs, MD, a noted gynecologic surgeon. Throughout these changes, the Board of Managers retained its prominent hands-on role.
What We Do For Patients Today
The Board of Managers continues to be a “boots on the ground” volunteer group. We visit patients on the Vincent Obstetrics and Gynecology floors at Mass General, delivering books, magazines, crossword puzzles, painting sets, and our special “Vincent” teddy bears to babies born at the hospital and gynecology patients. We cuddle newborns in the Special Care Nursery, who go home with a hand-made fleece stroller blanket made by our members. We also do special projects, such as working with the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Unit to create a commemorative quilt to celebrate this outstanding fertility service, which since 1992 has helped thousands of people to conceive and have children.
How We Support Vincent Staff
To support the OB/GYN nursing staff at Mass General, we fund monthly lunches and late-night pizza on the Vincent floors. We decorate for the holidays and make special purchases of much-needed extras, such as a coffee machine for the Labor and Delivery Unit. During National Nurses Week held every May, we give each Vincent nurse a token of our appreciation. In 2019, we distributed hundreds of KIND protein bars to staff members, with a thank-you note attached to each bar. For the past three years, these bars have been donated by the KIND Foundation. The Board of Managers also has provided key funding for a nurses’ retreat that focused on building teamwork among nurses who serve in Labor and Delivery.
Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19
In early 2020, as Mass General prepared for the surge of patients expected in the COVID-19 pandemic, the VMHF Board of Managers realized doctors and nurses would be under tremendous stress. To help, they scheduled meal deliveries to the staff on all three Vincent floors — three meals a week from mid-March through June — rotating the deliveries to cover each hospital shift (nurses in photo: Phillips House, Ellison 22).
It was a natural fit for this group of volunteers. Since 1891, when Vincent Memorial Hospital was founded, members of the Board of Managers have provided a wide range of “extras” to both patients and staff. In early times, they even brought nourishing food from their own gardens.
This extraordinary legacy of caring continues. “We’re grateful to the Board of Trustees for also supporting this program with special donations. And to J. Pace & Son, which like other area restaurants, was under tremendous stress but stepped up to make these meal deliveries possible,” said Ann Corcoran, chair of the Hospitality Committee. Under the leadership of Hallie Stephenson Lee, then president of the Board of Managers, the group expanded the meal from once a month to three times a week. Despite a challenging work schedule, Vincent nurses found time to send their appreciation:
“To say ‘thank you’ does not even touch upon the depth of gratitude we feel to you and the VMHF Board of Managers for the incredible generosity and support you give always, but especially over the past few months.” — Molly Lyttle, Nursing Director, Phillips 22
“Our teams have very much appreciated the support of the VMHF Board of Managers and Trustees over the past several months.” — Michele O’Hara, Nursing Director, Blake 14 (Labor and Delivery)
“Please send a big thank-you from myself and the nurses to the VMHF Board of Managers. This has been a very challenging time, and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support. It meant a lot to us!” — Kim Francis, Nursing Director, Newborn Family Unit