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Maine Children’s Cancer Program receives $2.25 M gift from Sam L. Cohen Foundation

December 02, 2021

PORTLAND, Maine – The Sam L. Cohen Foundation is donating $2.25 million, the largest gift in its history, to Maine Medical Center (MMC), The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital (BBCH) and the Maine Children’s Cancer Program (MCCP). In recognition and appreciation of the Foundation’s generosity, a new pediatric infusion center at MCCP on MMC’s Scarborough campus will be named The Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center. MCCP will also use funds from this gift to establish the Sam L. Cohen Medical Director Chair at the Maine Children’s Cancer Program and enhance its psycho-social support services.

Sam L. Cohen
“Sam Cohen had a special place in his heart for the Maine Children’s Cancer Program,” said Jeffrey Nathanson, President of the Sam L. Cohen Foundation. “Sam loved to visit MCCP and was moved by the exceptional care and hope the staff offered to children and families. The Sam L. Cohen Foundation is honored to support the Maine Children’s Cancer Program’s mission going forward and believes this grant is a fitting tribute to Sam’s memory and legacy.”

In January, construction will begin on The Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center on MMC’s Scarborough Campus, where MCCP is located. The $1.5 million project is expected to be complete in spring 2022. The three-bay pediatric infusion suite will create the capacity for 500 additional infusions per year. The outpatient center also will give patients access to child life, music therapy and clinical specialists, and it will have a solarium that creates space for healing as well as special programs.

Currently, MCCP uses its six treatment rooms for patients with cancer and blood disorders. There is not enough capacity to serve all patients, however. As a result, many of Maine’s young patients who require IV therapy for a variety of acute and chronic illnesses including genetic conditions, rheumatologic, gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders receive infusions at the inpatient unit at BBCH in Portland.

“Not only will the Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center create a warm, child-centered space to help young patients heal, it will allow BBCH to have more capacity to serve children who require hospitalization on its pediatric-friendly floor,” said Mary Ottolini, MD, The George W. Hallett, M.D, Chair of Pediatrics at Maine Medical Center. “This addition will benefit all of our pediatric patients fighting serious illness.”

Dawn Blake of Lewiston, whose 10-year old son, Devon has been receiving infusions at BBCH and MCCP since the age of three, said the Sam L. Cohen Infusion Center will make a big difference to her family. Devon has Evans Syndrome, an extremely rare condition that destroys red blood cells, white blood cells and sometimes platelets. He receives life-saving infusions every 28 days to improve his platelet count and boost his weakened immune system.

“The nurses, doctors and social workers at BBCH and MCCP all help make getting an infusion a positive experience for Devon,” said Dawn Blake. “We’re lucky a place like this exists in Maine and are glad more families will have access to these treatments.”

Aaron Weiss, DO, has been named the first Sam L. Cohen Medical Director at MCCP. Dr. Weiss joined MCCP in 2012 and was appointed medical director of MCCP and division director of pediatric hematology-oncology in 2020. Dr. Weiss treats children, adolescents and young adults with cancer and blood disorders and is actively involved in research of those diseases.

“I am grateful to the Sam L. Cohen Foundation for providing the reliable and sustainable source of funding that this named chair represents for MCCP, its patients and its care team members,” Dr. Weiss said. “We now have additional opportunities to enhance the research, treatment and family support that allow MCCP to deliver the highest-quality care to our patients.”

Funding from the Sam L. Cohen Medical Director chair will support direct care, pilot programs, research, education and innovation at MCCP.

Artists’ renderings of the Sam L. Cohen Pediatric Infusion Center and a photo of Sam L. Cohen are available for download at: https://assets.mainehealth.org/share/37D6E42C-92C5-48A9-A99666244589F525/

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About Sam L. Cohen Foundation
The Sam L. Cohen Foundation was established in 2004 as a philanthropic foundation serving the people and communities of southern Maine. Today the Foundation reflects Sam’s lifelong values of quiet generosity, helping people in need, and promoting human rights and understanding among all peoples. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded $31,213,000 to more than 500 nonprofit organizations working to strengthen our communities by providing access to educational opportunities, contributing to civic improvement and community well-being, increasing access to health care, promoting arts and culture, and preserving Jewish traditions, culture, and community. For more information visit www.samlcohenfoundation.org.

About Maine Medical Center
Maine Medical Center (MMC), recognized as a Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News and World Report for 2021-2022, is a complete health care resource for the people of Greater Portland and the entire state, as well as northern New England. Incorporated in 1868, MMC is the state’s largest medical center, licensed for 637 beds and employing more than 9,600 people. MMC's unique role as both a community hospital and a referral center requires an unparalleled depth and breadth of services, including an active educational program and a world-class biomedical research center. As a nonprofit institution, Maine Medical Center provides nearly 23 percent of all the charity care delivered in Maine. MMC is part of the MaineHealth system, a growing family of health care services in northern New England. For more information, visit www.mmc.org.

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