Burlington, Mass. – Lahey Hospital & Medical Center (LHMC) has received a transformational $10 million gift to establish the Jean Cunningham Department of Nursing and Jean Cunningham Chair in Nursing. Given in memory of Jean Cunningham, who was a nurse at LHMC for more than 40 years, the gift will support lifelong career and leadership development for the hospital’s nurses and support high-quality care and outcomes for patients and families.
“I am immensely proud of the work our team of more than 1,500 nurses and nursing assistants does every day in providing outstanding patient care with compassion and integrity,” said David Longworth, MD, President of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “This extraordinary generosity celebrates the work of our nursing colleagues and represents a remarkable investment in the future of nursing excellence at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.”
Jean Cunningham is remembered for her years of dedication to compassionate patient care through her roles ranging from staff nurse, charge nurse, educator, assistant nurse manager, to nurse manager. “I am forever grateful for Jean’s legacy of service to our patients and our talented nursing staff,” said Tracy Galvin, MSN, RN, Chief Nursing Officer at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “This generous gift is the first to name a department at LHMC, and we are privileged to have Jean’s name and legacy forever associated with our department of nursing.”
In establishing the Jean Cunningham Department of Nursing, the gift will support and sustain a comprehensive nursing education and professional development program, establish an endowed fund to provide annual nursing scholarships, and provide funds for nursing innovation and excellence. The gift also establishes the Jean Cunningham Chair in Nursing, to be held by LHMC’s Chief Nursing Officer.
“This support in Jean’s honor will ensure our nurses have the resources to help continue their education at any age or stage of their careers,” said Galvin, the first incumbent of the Jean Cunningham Chair in Nursing. “My goal is for Lahey nurses to be known nationally for the care that we give and teams we have built, and this gift will allow us to continue to do that.”
Ongoing support for lifelong learning and professional development and advancement is critical to recruiting a diverse nursing workforce. Funds from this gift will add significant resources at LHMC for nursing education and training, leadership development, and ongoing career development for nurses. Scholarship funds will support early-career staff seeking to become registered nurses (RNs) or to pursue their bachelor’s degree. Combined with increased resources for nursing certifications, this initiative is informed by research that shows that additional education and training strengthens clinical practice and leads to better patient outcomes.
“This gift not only memorializes Jean and her legacy, it marks the recent one-year anniversary of the pandemic, which makes this gift particularly meaningful,” said the donor. “With the frontline workers and so many others in mind, this is our way of giving back to those who work so hard every day at Lahey. We hope that so many nurses, especially after this past year, can benefit from this gift.”
Recruiting and supporting talented nurses is a core component of LHMC’s nursing strategic plan and its multiyear effort to achieve Magnet status. Magnet is a designation awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center to hospitals that demonstrate outstanding patient care, nursing excellence, and innovations in professional nursing practice. This gift will provide critical, flexible funds to accelerate LHMC’s journey to Magnet status and sustain the resulting model for strengthening staff engagement, as well as promoting quality improvement and evidence-based practice.
“This is truly a transformational gift,” said Kevin Tabb, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Beth Israel Lahey Health. “One of the things that makes our health system special is the legacy that each of our hospitals brings to our collective effort. These legacies are shaped by individuals—people like Jean Cunningham—who stand out because of their commitment to make everything we do better for our patients, our families, and the communities we serve. This generous gift will help train the next generation of nursing leaders to carry on Jean Cunningham’s spirit.”
About Lahey Hospital & Medical Center
Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is a world-renowned tertiary medical center known for its innovative technology, pioneering medical treatment, and leading-edge research. A teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine, Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is a national leader in several health care areas, including spine surgery, stroke, weight management and lung screenings, among many others. For more information on Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, please visit www.lahey.org.
Lahey Hospital & Medical Center is a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,800 physicians and 36,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education. For more information on Beth Israel Lahey Health, please visit www.bilh.org.