By the time Sheryl and Baird Stephenson became Virginia Mason patients in the early 1980s, they had already lived abroad and done a lot of traveling.
“I’ve been in many hospitals, including Naval ones,” says Baird, who served as an officer for five years in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. “When you get a good nurse, it’s a wonderful experience. If you don’t have that support, it can be difficult. I’m thankful to say I’ve always had positive experiences at Virginia Mason. And that goes for everyone at the hospital, no matter what their job.”
Appreciative of the care they received — and how well the ship was run — the Stephensons began supporting Virginia Mason many years ago. Now, they thoughtfully direct their annual gift toward a different pressing need at the hospital. Last year, as the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the Stephensons prioritized nursing education for their 2020 gift because they realized the nursing team would need extra training.
“Nurses become your lifelines when you are hospitalized and feeling vulnerable,” says Sheryl. “The nurse’s role was even more important during the pandemic because patients’ family visits were limited.”
Reflecting on a year like no other, the Stephensons also shared some insightful perspective about how the pandemic could impact on research, care and corresponding philanthropy.
“The realities and stress of the past year have taken a heavy toll, but we’ve also witnessed corresponding positives,” says Sheryl. “We’re deeply thankful for how quickly medical science was able to respond with effective vaccines. As a result of discoveries made during the search for treatments and cures, as well as a heightened respect for funding research, I think the coming years will astound us with a richness of medical advancements and discoveries which were accelerated by the dark cloud of the pandemic. There is always a silver lining.”