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Va. man gives thousands to W.Va. hospital

September 03, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Virginia man has pledged $750,000 to have a new cancer treatment center at City Hospital in Martinsburg named in memory of his wife.

The three-story building on a hill south of the hospital will be named the Dorothy A. McCormack Cancer Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, City Hospital Administrator Peter Mulford announced at a press conference Thursday.

Dorothy McCormack, a Charles Town, W.Va., native, was a patient at the hospital during her long battle with cancer, which she lost in June, said her husband Leonard J. McCormack.

Had the treatment facility been open when his wife was ill, she wouldn't have had to travel to Winchester, Va., for the 34 radiation treatments she received, said McCormack, 87, of Clearbrook, Va.

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He said he thinks his wife would have preferred to have the treatments at the hospital.

"After all, the doctors are here that operated on her," he said.

She took a bit of the hospital into their home, asking painters to incorporate the colors she'd admired there into the decor of a sunroom they built, McCormack said.

In her memory, the new center's interior will be decorated in blue, mauve and beige.

McCormack said he wasn't aware of plans for a cancer treatment facility until their family practitioner, Dr. William C. Dressler, of Martinsburg, called him a few weeks ago and asked him to make the large donation.

After thinking about it, he said, he decided it would be a good thing to do in memory of his wife.

McCormack owned Reimers Electra Steam, a steam products manufacturer in Clearbrook, until his retirement in 1981.

Gateway Foundation board members praised McCormack's generosity and his help in bringing a needed resource to Eastern Panhandle residents.

"This is one of the largest gifts that's ever been given in our community," said capital campaign co-chairman Clarence E. Martin III.

The project will allow people to stay in the area and receive the kind of quality care and treatment for cancer they haven't been able to receive locally, Martin said.

"We appreciate your gift more than we can tell you," said Ray Johnston, chairman of the nonprofit Gateway Foundation, which is sponsoring the $5 million center.

Expected to open by the end of March, the center initially was slated to start treating cancer patients this fall, according to hospital officials.

Site work began, as scheduled, in December. But a combination of wet weather, a small sinkhole and a supply shortage held up construction.

A backup in steel fabrication already had threatened the construction schedule when the sinkhole - 6 feet by 8 feet across and 12 feet deep - developed in May, officials said.

Rainy weather created muddy conditions that slowed progress.

Once the sinkhole appeared, work was suspended until a subsurface investigation determined there was no major cavern and the problem could be fixed safely, officials said.

Foundation work resumed on Aug. 1.

Construction is going well, Mulford said.

All the structural steel is on site and most of it is up, including floor decking on two floors, he said.

The capital campaign has raised about $250,000 other than McCormack's donation, Mulford said.

The 60,000-square-foot building will serve a number of purposes, including allowing the hospital to offer radiation therapy to its patients, providing physician office space and housing the hospital's rehabilitation and wellness centers, officials said.

About 300 people are diagnosed with cancer in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle each year, according to hospital literature.

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