On Friday, June 16, 2017, representatives from the Medical Staff at South County Health awarded a total of $11,800 in scholarships to 22 area high school graduates.
Many of the students and their parent
s attended the awards ceremony held at South County Hospital where they were acknowledged for their ambition, rewarded for their achievements, and offered advice for the future.
Among the physicians to address the gather
ing was cardiologist, Aaron Weisbord, MD, president of the South County Health medical staff. He encouraged the students to dedicate themselves to whichever path they chose.
“All I can say is follow your dream. Do something
that you are passionate about. If you get a call at two in the morning because somebody needs you, you’ll be jumping out of bed,” Dr. Weisbord said.
Dr. David Chronley, the physician who initiated the Conrad-Nestor Scholarship as a way to honor his colleagues, recounted earlier days of South County Hospital and the impact the scholarship’s namesakes had on healthcare in the community.
Martha Conrad, the widow of Dr. Robert Conrad, spoke of her husband’s dedication and how it proved valuable in shaping patient care as it is today.
“He was physician number 16,” she told the attentive students.
Back then, she said, resources were scarce.
“If he needed a tool that he didn’t have, he’d fabricate it. He’d bring it home and make it the way he needed it to be, bring it back to the hospital, autoclave it, and use it in the OR,” she said.
She encouraged the students to apply that same philosophy in their pursuits.
“Be innovative and love what you do,” she said.
Two scholarship programs were established several years ago by South County Hospital physicians, the Conrad–Nestor Scholarship and the Medical Staff Scholarship. Both are geared toward students who demonstrate academic accomplishment and financial need.
Dr. Conrad was a general surgeon on staff from 1965 to 2000. He was instrumental in improving the facilities, staff and patient care at South County Hospital, serving as both president of the medical staff and chief of surgery. During his tenure, he established the first EMT training in the state, the first radio communication between South County Health and the local rescue squads, and helped create the first FAA-approved hospital heliport in New England that continues to service South County Hospital.
Dr. Nestor, a surgeon and family doctor, was a member of the South County Hospital medical staff from 1946 to 1986. He was known for his formidable schedule and compassion for his patients, making house calls until his retirement. He served as a Major in WWII Parachute Infantry, making numerous successful jumps under fire to care for wounded soldiers on the battlefields of the South Pacific.
The Conrad-Nestor Scholarship is awarded to children, grandchildren or dependent children of South County Hospital employees.
The second scholarship program, the Medical Staff Scholarship, is open to area students who demonstrate academic accomplishment, financial need and who plan to pursue careers in the healthcare profession.
The selection process includes committee review of the applications and essays submitted by the students, as well as a personal interview with each applicant.
“Throughout the decades, we have given scholarships to students who are now physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, nurses, medical technology researchers, dentists and sports medicine trainers,” said Eleni Pappas, DPM. “This year we have our first possible future optometrist.”
The scholarship programs not only help deserving students, but forges connections with future medical professionals who live in the community.
“We hope that this shared experience of our caring staff will inspire these wonderful future health care providers and maybe bring them back to our community at South County Hospital,” said Dr. Pappas.
The 2017 Conrad-Nestor Scholarship recipients are:
David Warren Benson, South Kingstown High School
Alyzza DeGiovanni, Chariho High School
Olivia Rose Chatowsky, Chariho High School
Alexandrea Goodness, South Kingstown High School
Austin Hedglen, South Kingstown High School
Ethan Hoy, West Warwick High School
Savhanna Richardson, Narragansett High School
Holly Swanson, Scituate High School
Kara Waldheger, South Kingstown High School
Robert Zenga, Chariho High School
The 2017 Medical Staff Scholarship recipients are:
Sophie Ahava, South Kingstown High School
Virginia Doyle, Narragansett High School
McKenzie Fox, Chariho High School
Hillary Gallagher, Exeter-West Greenwich Regional High School
Rachel Gilman, Chariho High School
Natalie Keefe, Chariho High School
Abbie Lloyd, South Kingstown High School
Erika Lyons, Prout High School
Kaitlin McLeod, Narragansett High School
Isabella Miko Rydzaj, Prout High School
Taylor O’Rourke, North Kingstown High School
Tom Ricciutti,Exeter-West Greenwich Regional High School