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Cummings School receives donation to renovate hospital

Published: Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Updated: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 08:02

The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in January received a $2.5 million donation from Travis and Anne Engen, bringing the school closer to its $5 million fundraising goal for the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals (FHSA).

In raising $5 million by the end of the year, Senior Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the Cummings School Ana Alvarado said the school would receive the $2.5 million challenge gift from the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, bringing renovation funds to about $8 million. 

“The Peabody grant has been a huge boost to our fundraising campaign,” Alvarado told the Daily in an email. “Because of the Amelia Peabody Charitable Trust’s support, the Cummings School is able to maximize every dollar that comes in this year as a result of the two-to-one matching grant ... The Engens’ gift of $2.5 million gets us halfway toward reaching that goal.”

According to Alvarado, the renovation plans include adding resources that benefit FHSA patients and clients, which is one of the school’s teaching hospitals.

“The goal of the hospital renovation is to reshape our teaching hospitals into the Northeast’s most advanced treatment and education center,” Alvarado said. “Phase I improvements will add 25 percent more state-of-art exams rooms; larger treatment rooms for our ophthalmology; cardiology; neurology and dermatology specialty services and areas that will increase the comfort of our clients.” 

In addition to adding newer technology in veterinary medicine and more examination rooms, FHSA Medical Director Virginia Rentko said that the renovations would create more accommodations for clients under stress. These plans include an updated and expanded reception area, and a peaceful area for pet owners making difficult decisions.

“We are creating a reflection space, and this is an area where pet owners can go to make fateful decisions about their pet when they have a lot of things to consider,” Rentko said.

According to Rentko, the Engens have previously supported hospital programs at the Cummings School, including the research done by members of the FHSA faculty.

“The Engens have also had a long relationship in terms of support of our school, primarily through relationships with several of our small animal hospital faculty members — supporting their research and some other projects in the small animal hospital,” Rentko said. “We were just thrilled that they were interested in supporting this project, as well.”

Dean of the Cummings School Deborah T. Kochevar said in a press release that the combination of the Engens’ donation and the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund challenge are bringing the vision for the FHSA closer to reality.

“The Engen family and trustees of the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund understand what the hospital renovation will mean for us and truly value the school’s mission of clinical service, teaching and research,” Kochevar said. “With their support, the Cummings School is now much closer to obtaining the funding needed to start Phase I construction and we hope to be able to do that soon with continued support from the community.”

Beyond the Peabody grant, the influence of Amelia Peabody can be observed in the architecture of the Cummings School, according to Alvarado. She also said that the grant is connected to Peabody’s past charitable acts and passion for animals.

“The remarkable gift from the Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund honors Amelia Peabody’s love of animals and her past philanthropic support of the school,” she said. “In 1981, in one of the rare departures from the anonymity that characterized her giving, she founded the Amelia Peabody Pavilion, which houses a large animal clinic at the Cummings School.”

According to Kochevar, the renovations will better the learning and clinical experience for Cummings veterinary students.

“The Foster Hospital for Small Animals is our busiest clinical care and teaching venue,” Kochevar told the Daily in an email. “Our students learn medicine, surgery and related skills there, and also develop their ability to work well as health professional teams caring for clients and their animal companions.”

According to Rentko, the ultimate goal for the renovations is to provide services that will deliver quality care and improve the overall patient and client experience. 

“I think that the most important thing for me about this renovation is that we get high grades for our medical care that we deliver ...  Really what this renovation will do is provide kind of an environment within the hospital so that the client experience and the patient experience, particularly in the outpatient areas, can be enhanced,” Rentko said.

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