Helping Addison Gilbert Hospital Help Elders with Complex Needs
Linzee and Beth Coolidge see the results of their philanthropic giving every day. They focus their donations on organizations in Gloucester, where they have lived full-time for almost 20 years.
From education to animal shelters to maritime organizations, the Coolidges have been a major source of support to Cape Ann communities. One of the local causes they feel most strongly about is Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester. In 2013, their generosity helped the hospital to purchase a new CT scanner. Most recently, they gave $250,000 for the expansion of the hospital’s Senior Adult Unit (SAU).
Treating mental and physical health together
The SAU, which now has 14 beds, provides inpatient care to the elderly who have experienced a sudden change in mental status or who are experiencing an acute phase of a chronic illness or mood disorder. Such changes result in behaviors that may place them at risk in their homes or community-based settings. The SAU team is trained and certified in the specialized care of the elderly.
“The hospital is such an important part of the community,” Linzee said. “When we were asked to support the expansion of the Senior Adult Unit, we went to the hospital and spoke with the doctor in charge of the unit, who explained why it is needed. Treating the physical and mental health of the elderly in a holistic manner makes so much sense — they are definitely interdependent.”
The Coolidges’ gift, made through their Dusky Foundation, will be used to increase the number of beds in the SAU to 20 so the hospital can help more seniors with complex health needs who require a lengthy hospital stay to be stabilized before returning home. This expansion will allow the hospital to meet the demands of the community’s growing population of elders in a way that respects their individual dignity.
Deciding what to fund
“A lot of how we make decisions about what to give to comes from meeting with the people who are involved, and getting a sense of their commitment and enthusiasm,” said Linzee, who retired from a career in real estate investment and management. “We also talk to other philanthropists in the area who have supported the organizations.”
The Coolidges have funded dozens of local initiatives through the Dusky Foundation and the Belinda Fund, a donor-advised fund. The Dusky Foundation was named after Linzee’s childhood dog, a black lab. Linzee, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, named the Belinda Fund after his ancestor’s lost love.
The charitable gifts range from donations to Cape Ann Animal Aid to support construction of a building to care for homeless dogs and cats, to expanding the space and services of The Open Door, an organization that operates Cape Ann’s most extensive food pantry. They have also supported PAARI, Gloucester’s police-based opioid addiction and treatment initiative, which steers people who seek help into treatment and recovery programs rather than charging them with drug possession or other criminal offenses.
“It is a pleasure to help other people”
Maritime organizations are a particular interest of Linzee’s. “I’ve always been a boat person,” he said. “I like organizations like Maritime Gloucester that get young people interested and involved in the seashore and biology of the coast. The Coolidges have supported a youth sailing program, the restoration of a lighthouse off the coast of Rockport, and Schooner Adventure, a 122-foot sail-powered fishing vessel being restored for use as a living monument to the state’s fishing heritage and to Gloucester’s fishermen lost at sea.
Linzee especially enjoys contributing to projects whose results he can see. These include a project to install fireproof insulation and a sprinkler system in the historic Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church and the reconstruction of the stadium and track at Gloucester High School.
Being able to see the expansion of Addison Gilbert’s SAU will allow him to know he is helping people in his community. “It’s so important that our community has a good hospital, and we all should try to make it the best hospital we can,” Linzee said. “It is a pleasure to help other people in our community.”