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Published on January 06, 2022

Family Honors Cape Cod Hospital NursesFamily Pays It Back to Cape Cod Hospital Nurses

Family Pays It Back to Cape Cod Hospital Nurses

If you walk through the halls of Cape Cod Hospital, you may notice nurses wearing matching gray fleece vests with the hospital’s name embroidered on the front. It’s one of many annual gifts provided by the Zarkin Family Nurse Appreciation Fund.

Susan and Herb Zarkin of Mashpee established the appreciation fund at Cape Cod Hospital in 2015 because they wanted to recognize exceptional care they personally have received. “I thought the nurses at the hospital were just super-duper,” says Herb.

The Zarkins established this fund as a way to pay it back and to help improve nurses’ lives through simple gestures with movie passes, theater tickets, Red Sox games, a pizza party or ice cream on a hot day. “It was very important for us to get the nurses involved and tell us what’s good for them,” says Herb, adding the gifts have changed from entertainment offerings to more practical products because of Covid.

On December 22, around 800 RNs at Cape Cod Hospital will receive RTIC stainless steel, double-wall vacuum insulated water bottles. In previous years, the Zarkin family helped spread holiday cheer by gifting nurses with poinsettias and plaid scarves. “We get an unbelievable amount of thank you’s from the people at Cape Cod Hospital and Bea (Gremlich of Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation) helps pull together nice gifts for them,” says Herb. “They send a big card, sign their names on it and send pictures. It makes us feel good that we are helping the people that really do the job day in and day out.”

The appreciation fund initially started more than 20 years ago, when the Zarkin’s oldest daughter faced Stage 4 breast cancer. After spending 12- to 15-hour days over several weeks with their daughter as she underwent treatment at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center, the Zarkins were touched by the outstanding care provided by the nurses. They wanted to express their gratitude by doing something special and personal, says Herb. “We were not really interested in having our name on a building.”

A few years ago, the Zarkins also established the nurse appreciation fund at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. The Zarkins estimate they fund gifts for about 1,600 nurses annually among the three hospitals. Although the family donates to many other organizations, giving back to the nurses is the most personal and the one closest to their hearts.

“There’s a Jewish word called ‘kvell,’ says Herb. “It just makes you feel so good all over because we are making them feeling good.”

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