Once every so often — usually in March, when her patience with the cold weather has reached its end — Maureen Davitt daydreams about moving away from Rochester. Sometimes, she even goes so far as to imagine where she and her husband, Mark, might land should they ever decide to leave town.
“I start thinking, ‘What would be important to me if I were picking out a new place to live?’ And number one on the list would be access to good health care,” she said. “Because if you don’t have your health, what do you have?”
Over the years, the Davitts made a handful of gifts to the University of Rochester Medical Center. ConServe, an accounts receivable management company that Mark Davitt founded in 1985 and where he continues to serve as CEO, was steadily expanding, and the Davitts found occasion to support various health programs at URMC and elsewhere.
But recently, the Davitts decided to raise the stakes, returning to URMC with their biggest gift yet: a $2 million donation to support Golisano Children’s Hospital and its programs. In October, they joined hospital leaders in a ceremony which named the hospital’s 8th floor in their honor.
“Remarkable generosity,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of URMC and Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “We are truly humbled. This gift will impact children’s health for generations to come.”
Initially, the Davitts were hoping to keep their donation quiet, but when told that sharing the news could potentially inspire others to join them in giving, they decided that a little publicity was worthwhile. Earlier this year, they also announced significant gifts to the Seneca Park Zoo and Rochester Institute of Technology in the hopes of generating additional philanthropy.
“We want to do our part to enrich this community,” said Mark Davitt. “This is where we live. We raised our family here, sent our kids to school here, and worked here. Now, we want to give back.”
At Golisano Children’s Hospital, large gifts can have a cascade effect that goes well beyond the dollar value of the donation. For example, hospital leaders say that the new Golisano Children’s Hospital building — which opened in 2015 and is still being paid for by new gifts, such as the Davitts’ — has served as one of their best recruitment tools.
The best doctors want to have the best facilities possible at their disposal, and URMC now boasts one of the newest, most technically advanced children’s hospitals in the country, a significant distinction for many physicians who are considering multiple offers. In fact, Golisano Children’s Hospital’s new Physician-in-Chief, Patrick Brophy, M.D., was being courted by several universities before he decided on Rochester, citing the new hospital building as one of the main reasons he was drawn here.
For the Davitts, the children’s hospital represented an opportunity to support a group of patients that they’ve long cared about. Earlier in their lives, Maureen made her living as a pediatric nurse, and has seen firsthand the significance of being able to find care close to home.
“We’ve always focused on the most vulnerable populations, and to us that means the people on both ends of the lifespan: children and those late in life who need hospice care,” said Mark Davitt. “Families shouldn’t have to move out of the area to find the best care for their loved ones.”
Speaking of which, the Davitts aren’t actually planning on leaving Rochester any time soon, despite Maureen’s reservations about the winter. They share the same affinity that many locals do for a certain local grocer, among other things.
“Where else in the country would you say to out-of-town visitors ‘Hey, let me show you the grocery store!’” said Mark Davitt. “But it’s not just Wegmans, of course. For a small town, we’ve got so much to offer. The Jazz Fest, the Finger Lakes, restaurants that can compete with New York and Boston, and in addition, you still have these Norman Rockwell-ian hamlets and countryside.”
As he speaks, it becomes apparent that Mark Davitt has made this pitch to prospective ConServe candidates before. But he also knows that once people experience Rochester, they tend to stick around, and that continuity has helped his business grow and thrive.
Now, thanks to his family’s support, Rochester’s children’s hospital will continue to grow and thrive, too.