Hospital cuts ribbon on brand-new building

John Ferguson, center, hospital trustee and outgoing chairman, invited a group of children to cut the ribbon across the hospital main entrance. Looking on, from left to right: Frank Biondi, co-chairman of the capital campaign committee, hospital CEO Tim Walsh, newly elected board chairman and trustee Tim Sweet, and trustee Sandy Ray. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The new Martha’s Vineyard Hospital opened its doors to approximately 2,300 Islanders over the weekend. The typical reaction was “wow.”

On Saturday evening, hospital trustees held a private party to thank the donors who contributed the money that paid for the new building. Approximately 800 people walked the corridors and enjoyed a celebratory party that brought together Islanders from all walks of life, much as the fundraising effort did.

Sunday, in one of the only moments approaching formality, the trustees held an official ribbon cutting ceremony and opened the doors to the public. Over a span of several hours, 1,500 people walked through the hospital, marveling at the spaciousness and furnishings of the patient rooms, most with water views.

Among those walking the corridors was Dr. Russell Hoxsie, who began his long Island medical career in 1955. “I can’t get over this,” Dr. Hoxsie, the retired physician who lives in the adjacent Windemere assisted-living facility, said.

The hospital, built and furnished at a cost of close to $48 million, is not expected to open for business until sometime in May.

Guests invited to the Saturday night party sported a unique invitation — a plastic hospital bracelet around the wrist, of the type normally associated with procedures that do not include catered hors d’oeuvres, open bar service, and band entertainment.

John Ferguson, outgoing board chairman, newly elected chairman Tim Sweet, and hospital president and chief executive officer Tim Walsh greeted guests in the hospital lobby. On the wall was a freshly unveiled glass mural containing the names of all donors, and amounts, from one dollar to $3 million, given by an anonymous contributor — the single largest.

On Sunday, the trustees gathered in the foyer in anticipation of cutting a large blue ribbon strung across the entrance to the new hospital. Who should cut the ribbon?

Warren Spector, co-chairman of the fundraising committee and a major donor himself, suggested a diplomatic solution. Select a child, he said.

Standing outside in a stiff wind before the assembled crowd, Mr. Ferguson welcomed everyone. “This hospital, when you get a chance to tour it, is absolutely gorgeous and there is no mortgage, no debt,” he said to a round of applause.

Mr. Ferguson introduced the chairmen of the capital campaign committee, Frank Biondi and Mr. Spector. He then asked Mr. Spector to say a few words “about what it was like to raise $50 million.”

Mr. Spector remarked that now, when he calls people to play golf, they actually call him back.

He said the campaign had given him an opportunity to meet people he did not know, or did not know well, and discover that they were equally committed to the hospital. “I can’t tell you how good that made me feel about being part of this community,” he said, describing it as one of most enjoyable things he had worked on in his life.

When the moment came to cut the ribbon, Mr. Ferguson, who had been at the helm of the project for eight years, skillfully navigated his last shoal and invited all of the children to the front to assist in cutting the ribbon.

Comments left in a guest book sampled reactions: “Wow,” Trisha Lyman wrote. “An admirable achievement,” said Sam Feldman. “Hooray,” was Polly Brown’s comment. “Unbelievable. I am in awe. Thank you for the wonderful new hospital for our community. What a gift,” Amy and David Crawford wrote.