Friday, December 24, 2010

Today's poinsettias

The poinsettia plants being delivered to patients today remind me of the generosity of Morris Berman, one of the founders of Community General Hospital.

When he was alive, Morey Berman, a prominent Syracuse attorney, would call Community General Hospital each December and request that poinsettias be given to any patient who was otherwise without flowers over the holiday season.

"Send the bill to me," Morey would say, but he never wanted credit for the gift. "Just enclose a card saying, 'Happy holidays from the Board of Directors.'"

That's how I first met Morey. I was usually the guy receiving his call, and I would work with nurses to identify patients and make arrangements for the flowers.

As a young lawyer, Morey Berman chaired the 1957 study that resulted in a new Community Hospital of Greater Syracuse opening on Onondaga Hill in 1963. I wrote about this history a few years ago.

Morey's brother, Dr. Leon Berman, was President of Community's Medical Staff (1965-1967), and Morey served as Chairman of the Board of Directors (1970-1973). What a remarkable family that produced these siblings!

This morning, when I saw the poinsettia plants filling a conference room at the Community General Foundation, I remembered Morey Berman and his thoughtfulness for hospital patients. In the years since his death, an anonymous donor has continued the poinsettia tradition at Community in Morey Berman's memory.

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