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Woman’s caring heart leads to advanced heart care at Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH)

May 14, 2018

A luncheon held May 8 at the hospital celebrated the generosity of Palatine resident Martha “Marty” Atherton who donated $1 million to the NCH Foundation. Her gift will play an instrumental role as NCH establishes a state-of-the-art Structural Heart Program.

“Marty is a woman of great achievement and unending compassion,” said David Ungurean, Executive Director of the NCH Foundation, who called her relationship with NCH “a love affair with cardiovascular medicine that began 20 years ago.” Marty and her late husband Bob sought out the Foundation in 2000 seeking to make an impactful gift to the hospital as an act of gratitude for the care their family had received. It was the start of an incredible partnership.

Three years ago, physicians and leadership at NCH began collaboration on establishing a Structural Heart Program at the hospital. The vision was to combine the technology of a catheterization laboratory (cath lab) and the complexity of a surgical suite. Where previously a patient may have required open-heart surgery — or would not have been a candidate — NCH surgeons will soon be able to offer minimally-invasive heart procedures. The program, expected to roll out next spring, “will allow us to take care of more of our community’s patients here at NCH,” says NCH Chief Operating Officer Michael Hartke.

Marty’s generous donation — her largest gift to NCH, and the largest gift to this program to date — is integral to the creation of the Structural Heart Program. Addressing Marty and her generous donation, President and CEO Steve Scogna said, “I can’t thank you enough for all the wonderful things you’ve done for this organization.”

Close friends, NCH leadership and medical staff attended the luncheon and applauded as NCH Director of Cardiovascular Services Paul Ruzumna, M.D. and others presented Marty with an NCH physician lab coat embroidered with her name and a certificate naming her an honorary “Doctor of Philanthropy.” 

Marty, who will turn 90 in July, thanked the crowd and shared stories of perseverance in the midst of healthcare issues.

“When you have all of this support — family and friends and an incredible medical team — it seems like you can get through more and more of these crises and carry on,” she told the group. “I know we’re going to continue seeing a lot of good growth here at Northwest Community Hospital.”

NCH Executive Director of Cardiovascular and Neuroscience Services Bonnie DeGrande is very familiar with Marty’s generosity and nature for touching lives. Bonnie expressed the importance of Marty’s most recent gift. “We will actually be able to fulfill our dream, vision and goal to provide a truly comprehensive Structural Heart Program to our community,” DeGrande said. “Once again, Marty really has made a difference.”

A previous gift of $500,000 from Marty in 2013 enabled the dream of an NCH outpatient clinic for heart failure patients to become reality. Her name now graces the Atherton Heart Failure Clinic in Mount Prospect.