A new, substantial bridge in the St. Luke’s Jerome Park was dedicated Tuesday, August 2, 2016 as an enduring tribute to the past and St. Luke’s continuing commitment to the community.
The new St. Luke’s Jerome Memorial Bridge honors the founding Benedictine Sisters from the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho, and the late Marj Mason, the lead registered nurse who worked at the hospital for 19 years and saw it transition to St. Luke’s Jerome in 2011.
“St. Luke’s Jerome has such a powerful story to tell with the past and the present represented by this bridge,” said Curtis Maier, Jerome Administrator. “Out past is symbolized by St. Benedicts and the vision of the Benedictine Sisters and our present through the integration with St. Luke’s Health System, which has brought a new level of healthcare to our community. Marj Mason was a connector of people, and I can’t think of a better symbol to honor her memory.”
The Benedictine Sisters built St. Benedict’s Family Medical Center in 1952, and in the park behind it–a grotto and a wooden bridge crossing the irrigation canal.
Staff, patients and residents used the wooden bridge for the past 60 years to access the park for staff lunches and quiet moments, hospital and community events, as well as birthday parties, family picnics, graduations and weddings.
As hospital staff considered the need for bridge repairs, Maier suggested that an improved bridge could honor the care and service of the Sisters and Mason. Employees from St. Luke’s Jerome and Magic Valley raised half of the funds to build the bridge before the community was invited to contribute, which they did generously. About $95,000 was raised for the bridge and additional walking path, benches, tables, a handicap-accessible eating area and landscaping.
“It’s a whole community effort,” Magic Valley Foundation Director Dawn Soto said.
And Maier, a long-time staff member of the hospital, contributed heavily, including 60 hours on weekends and nights, hauling bark, pulling weeds and planting flowers, contributing funds and purchasing bricks to honor employees and employees’ relatives.
“He was incredibly dedicated to the project,” Soto said. “It’s absolutely gorgeous out there.”
Another generous donor is Bruce Mason, Marj’s husband. Marj received the St. Luke’s President’s Award in 2012, a little more than a year before she died of cancer. She had worked at the hospital in general nursing, labor and delivery, the emergency room, and finally as the ER/OR supervisor. She was is remembered by many for her passionate care and was much loved as a mentor, teacher and advocate for staff education.
“St. Luke’s is so glad to be part of this loving and caring community,” said Dr. David Pate, president and CEO. “The response to Curtis’ call to acknowledge that care and caring exhibited decades ago by the Benedictine sisters who founded the hospital, and by St. Luke’s nurse Marj Mason for so long, was incredible. Thank you to the sisters; Benedictine grace and hospitality are known the world over. And thank you to Bruce Mason sharing Marj with the St. Luke’s family. We are better for her role with our organization.”
Roya Camp is managing editor and executive communications coordinator for St. Luke’s Health System.