$20 million gifted to St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children

Children's Hospital
Children's Hospital
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Children's Hospital

$20 million gifted to St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children

The multimillion-dollar gift from board member Cindy Johnson will help to alleviate pandemic-related financial challenges, as well as help further support children with medically complex conditions.
March 2, 2022

St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children has been given a $20 million donation from Cindy Johnson that will go in part toward improving remote care technology for patients. 

“It's transformative for our organization,” said Dr. Edwin Simpser, president and chief executive officer at St. Mary’s, about the largest gift ever given to the Queens-based organization. 

“It's really going to help us continue to dream, continue to innovate,” he added. 

St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children has cared for children with complex conditions, such as neurological, gastroenterological, and cardiac respiratory complications, as well as external injuries sustained by car accidents and other life-threatening conditions of that nature, for over 150 years. St. Mary’s is one of the area's only providers of rehabilitative and long-term care for children, serving nearly 1,300 children at three locations throughout the New York metro area. It’s main campus in Bayside is home to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children, with smaller locations in New Hyde Park and Roslyn, New York. 

No stranger to the organization, Johnson is a longtime member and current co-chair of the board of directors at St Mary’s. 

She and her husband, Tod Johnson, had previously established The Cindy and Tod Johnson Center for Pediatric Feeding Disorders at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children.

Cindy Johnson’s gift not only helps to support the already established work of St. Mary’s, but also provides a foundation for new or expanding initiatives, such as the growing use of telehealth.

According to Simpser, the first million dollars will go toward improving or acquiring technologies such as remote patient monitoring, which helps to return children home, while keeping them safe. The funds will also support or expand other telehealth-related ventures, such as remote physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in particular. Simpser noted how some nursing visits were successfully done remotely. 

The St. Mary’s president and CEO believes St. Mary’s could be a model for other health institutions in regards to telehealth, hoping for the work done at the organization to be transferable across the country, particularly in rural areas. Simpser believes the remote service delivery could also help alleviate the workforce issues the organization has had for a number of years pre-pandemic, as well as help St. Mary’s serve children that live in difficult areas to reach. 

Simpser said some communities in the New York area are “a real struggle,” in terms of getting staff to travel there and aid children and their families. “It's hard to get staff to travel to certain neighborhoods, and to park their car, walk through the streets, etc … It leads to a significant amount of health inequity, frankly, and so looking at this modality, we actually hope to improve some of those inequities and be able to provide high level service to a population that's been missing out.” 

“We believe [by] using technology, we'll be able to do that.” 

The Johnsons are actively involved in various other causes, including supporting their alma mater Carnegie Mellon University, where they met and married, with a $50 million gift. Tod Johnson has led global market-research firm The NPD Group, Inc. as executive chair for over 45 years, serves as vice chair of the board of trustees at Carnegie Mellon and vice president and chair of the executive committee at the Metropolitan Opera.

“I’m proud to be able to provide this support so the organization can help even more of New York’s children,” Johnson said in a press release by St. Mary’s about the landmark donation. “This gift will give the talented professionals at St. Mary’s the freedom to design a better model of care for reaching those who need help the most.”

Jaylen Coaxum
Jaylen Coaxum is an intern at NYN Media.