MercyOne Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, has just been given the largest donation in the hospital’s 129-year history.
MercyOne was founded in 1893 by the Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic institute that founded education and health care facilities around the world. It has been a hospital continuously ever since. MercyOne NICU, their intensive care ward for prematurely born infants, is the central NICU for the state of Iowa. With 62 ‘beds’ (mostly incubators), they treat around 700 neonates every year, including babies born as early as 22 weeks
Norkaitis Family Charities is the legacy of William and Josephine Norkaitis, who made their fortune as early investors in McDonald’s. The Norkaitis were always charity-minded, helping feed the hungry. Their McDonald’s franchises even had profit sharing, unheard of outside the automotive trade. Today, their charity is managed by their daughter, Florence Burch.
“They moved their feet in the direction that they believed,” she said of her parents. “They did what they believed they should do.”
Burch, on behalf of her parents, donated $1 million to the MercyOne NICU, the single largest private donation in the history of the hospital.
The NICU is a matter of personal emotion to Burch. Her mother had five pregnancies, yet Burch is an only child. Her father’s life was only due to very early neonate care, in the 1910s. And she says her parents found their joy in helping others.
“He wouldn’t do for himself what he would do for other people,” she said. “That’s where he found his joy. He found his joy in working and in giving. There is no question about it.”
The donation is allowing the hospital to buy new medical equipment and training simulators in the very latest techniques for staff, all of which will only help to improve their patient outcomes.
Last week, the MercyOne NICU was renamed the William and Josephine Norkaitis Neonatal Intensive Care Unite, in their honor.