When Walter Birge accepted the position in 1980 as headmaster at The Fenn School, a middle school for boys in Concord, he was new to the area. The Manhattan native quickly came to know Emerson. Over time, he increasingly became engaged with the hospital.
"I would periodically bring Fenn boys who had sprains or cuts to the Emerson Emergency Department," he recalls. "When my son had an earache, we headed to the ED, where the staff took good care of him." Mr. Birge and his wife, Susan, have each had surgery at Emerson. "We've both received outstanding care, and we appreciate the willingness of Emerson physicians to quickly refer a patient to another hospital if more specialized care is required."
In 1991, Mr. Birge was asked to serve as an Emerson corporator. He does so with enthusiasm, including as chair of the Corporator Orientation Committee. He also serves as co-chair of the hospital's Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), which puts Mr. Birge at the table with other community residents and Emerson staff to discuss a range of issues — lately, the transitions of care that occur when patients leave Emerson for home or elsewhere.
"We're in the middle of all that important work, which has to do with handoffs between
Emerson and area health facilities," he explains, noting that the PFAC is also working with area Councils on Aging. "We're a pretty active bunch and always invite new issues."
After 13 years as headmaster at Fenn, Mr. Birge proceeded to teach English at the school. He runs into former students regularly. "I've become a Concordian," he says. "I'm a nest-builder. When I came to Concord, I began to accumulate things, including institutions that Susan and I care about."
Emerson is one of those institutions. The Birges have given to the hospital's Annual Appeal for 25 years. "We feel strongly about giving in general, not just to institutions that have been important in our lives, but that benefit all community residents.
"Emerson is our community hospital. When you support Emerson, you contribute to the good of the entire community."
There are many ways to support Emerson. To find out more and make a donation, visit our Giving page.