PORTLAND, Maine – The Sam L. Cohen Foundation is donating $2.25 million, the largest gift in its history, to Maine Medical Center (MMC), The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital (BBCH), and the Maine Children’s Cancer Program (MCCP). In recognition and appreciation of the Foundation’s generosity, a new pediatric infusion center at MCCP on MMC’s Scarborough campus will be named The Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center. MCCP will also use the money from this donation to establish the Sam L. Cohen Medical Director Chair in the Maine Children’s Cancer Program and improve psychosocial support services.
Sam L. Cohen
“Sam Cohen had a special place in his heart for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program,” said Jeffrey Nathanson, Chairman of the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. “Sam loved visiting MCCP and was touched by the exceptional care and hope the staff provided to children and families. The Sam L. Cohen Foundation is honored to support the Maine Children’s Cancer Program’s mission going forward and believes this grant is a fitting tribute to Sam’s memory and legacy.”
Construction will start in January The Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center at MMC’s Scarborough Campus, where MCCP is located. The $1.5 million project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022. The three-bay pediatric infusion suite will create the capacity for 500 additional infusions per year. The outpatient center will also give patients access to children’s life, music therapy and clinical specialists, and it will have a solarium that creates space for healing and special programs.
Currently, MCCP uses its six treatment rooms for patients with cancer and blood disorders. However, there is insufficient capacity to serve all patients. As a result, many of Maine’s young patients requiring IV therapy for a variety of acute and chronic illnesses, including genetic, rheumatological, gastrointestinal and endocrine conditions, are receiving IVs at BBCH’s Portland Clinical Unit.
“Not only will the Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center create a warm, child-centric space to help young patients heal, it will empower BBCH to have greater capacity to help children in need of hospitalization on the child-friendly floor,” said Mary Ottolini, MD, The George W. Hallett, MD, chair of pediatrics at Maine Medical Center. “This addition will benefit all of our pediatric patients battling serious disease.”
Dawn Blake of Lewiston, whose 10-year-old son, Devon, has been taking infusions at BBCH and MCCP since age three, said the Sam L. Cohen Infusion Center will make a big difference to her family. Devon has Evans syndrome, an extremely rare condition that destroys red blood cells, white blood cells, and sometimes platelets. He receives life-saving infusions every 28 days to improve his platelet count and boost his weakened immune system.
“The BBCH and MCCP nurses, doctors and social workers all help make getting an infusion a positive experience for Devon,” said Dawn Blake. “We’re lucky that a place like this exists in Maine, and we’re thrilled that more families have access to these treatments.”
Aaron Weiss, DO, was named first Sam L. Cohen Medical Director at MCCP. dr. Weiss joined MCCP in 2012 and was named MCCP Medical Director and Division Director of Pediatric Hematology Oncology in 2020. dr. Weiss treats children, adolescents and young adults with cancer and blood disorders and is actively involved in research into those diseases.
“I am grateful to the Sam L. Cohen Foundation for providing the reliable and sustainable source of funding that this named chair represents for MCCP, its patients, and its healthcare team members,” dr. Weiss said. “We now have additional opportunities to improve research, treatment and family support, enabling MCCP to deliver the highest quality of care to our patients.”
Funding for the Sam L. Cohen Medical Director chair will support direct care, pilot programs, research, education and innovation at MCCP.
Artistic renderings of the Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center and a photo of Sam L. Cohen can be downloaded at: https://assets.mainehealth.org/share/37D6E42C-92C5-48A9-A99666244589F525/
About the Sam L. Cohen Foundation
The Sam L. Cohen Foundation was established in 2004 as a philanthropic foundation serving the people and communities of southern Maine. Today, the Foundation reflects Sam’s lifelong values of quiet generosity, helping those in need and promoting human rights and understanding among all peoples. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded $31,213,000 to more than 500 nonprofit organizations that work to strengthen our communities by providing access to educational opportunities, contributing to civic betterment and community well-being, accessing healthcare increase, promote arts and culture, and preserve Jewish traditions, culture and community. For more information, visit www.samlcohenfoundation.org.
About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as the top regional hospital by US News and World Report for 2021-2022, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Founded in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing more than 9,600 people. MMC’s unique role as both a community hospital and referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a not-for-profit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all charitable care provided in Maine. MMC is part of the MaineHealth System, a growing family of health services in northern New England. For more information, visit www.mmc.org.