Harford County residents John and Norma Cook celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2016 with a party that drew friends and family from across the country. This year marks another anniversary for the couple: their 20th consecutive year of giving generous annual gifts to UM St. Joseph Medical Center.
The Cooks, who were named "Philanthropists of the Year" in 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Harford County, are defined by laughter, loyalty and love of family. And loyalty plays a big role in their continuing philanthropy. "When I find something that is really exceptional, I stick with it," says John. "I received – and continue to receive – amazing heart care at St. Joe's. Between 11 bypasses and a new aortic valve, they saved my life," he continues. "St. Joe's is people, not a place, in my mind. Frank Morris, MD, Stewart Finney, MD, Susie Morgan, RN and the whole team in the Heart Institute are who make the hospital what it is."
And now, the Cooks can see one of the results of their longstanding generosity. The hybrid OR, which they helped fund, will open in February 2018. This state-of-the-art cardiac surgical suite is outfitted to perform minimally invasive procedures on high-risk patients who are not optimal candidates for open-heart surgery. If a complication arises, however, the hybrid OR can quickly transition into an open-heart operating room. John says succinctly but with a smile, "I hope we don't have to use it but I'm sure glad it's there."
Frank Morris, MD, John's cardiologist, says "Fortunately, John's health is such that I don't need to see him often but when I do, I always enjoy our visits. Aside from his great sense of humor, John and Norma are a reminder to me of the folks who really love St. Joe's and the spirit of generosity that has always sustained us. It's what allows us to thrive and be there for everyone in our community."