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McGovern to Deliver Commencement Address at UMass Medical School

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


(From left) Cherylann and Len Gengel, former Haitian Ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Joseph, and U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern are shown in this 2013 picture in Haiti. McGovern will receive a Chancellor's Medal and deliver the address at the UMMS Commencement exercises on June 1, while the Gengels, founders of the Be Like Brit Foundation, will receive honorary degrees along with founding UMMS chair in surgery H. Brownell Wheeler, MD.

UMass Medical School's 2014 commencement address will be delivered by U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, who will also receive a Chancellor's Medal.

The school's 41st Commencement Exercises will be held on Sunday, June 1, where McGovern will take part in recognizing Cherylann and Len Gengel, founders of the Be Like Brit Foundation and the Be Like Brit Orphanage in Grand Goâve, Haiti; and H. Brownell Wheeler, MD, the Harry M. Haidak Distinguished Professor emeritus and founding chair of the department of surgery at UMass Medical School, as honorary degree recipients.

“Since his election in 1996, Congressman McGovern has been widely recognized as a tenacious advocate for his district, a relentless crusader for change, a steadfast champion for biomedical research and an unrivaled supporter for social justice and human rights,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins.

Currently serving his ninth term in Congress, McGovern sits on the House Rules and Agriculture Committees and co-chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and the House Hunger Caucus.

Be Like Brit

In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake that took the life of Britney Gengel, McGovern traveled to Haiti, first with family members of several of those who, like Britney, were working or volunteering in Haiti when the earthquake struck; and then three years later with Britney’s parents for the dedication of the Be Like Brit Orphanage. The congressman was privileged to write the foreword to the Gengels’ book Heartache and Hope in Haiti, which chronicles their remarkable journey as they sought to find meaning in the loss of their daughter.

“Cherylann and Len Gengel are deeply inspirational and tremendously pragmatic; when Britney was killed in Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake, the Gengels responded in an extraordinary way, choosing to fulfill their daughter’s dream of helping Haitian orphans,” said Collins.

Gengel had been in Haiti for just two days, visiting feeding centers, elder homes and orphanages, when she was buried with other victims in the rubble of her hotel, but she had already decided to devote her life to helping orphans there.

Compelled to honor their remarkable daughter’s wishes, the Gengels founded Be Like Brit, a nonprofit whose mission is to serve the children of Haiti by establishing a safe, nurturing, earthquake-proof and sustainable orphanage in an environment where they can grow, learn and thrive. That orphanage has been built and the children are receiving a host of invaluable services, including education, health care, nutrition and emotional support.

H. Brownell Wheeler, MD

Dr. Wheeler’s career at UMass Medical School spanned forty years; in 1971, he was selected by Lamar Soutter to become the founding chair of the department of surgery and served as chair until 1996, after which he emerged as an ardent advocate for improving patient care, particularly end of life care. As chief of the medical staff for the University of Massachusetts Hospital from 1974 to 1976, he oversaw the extraordinarily complex period during which the new hospital was staffed, equipped and opened for patient care.

“The resolve, resourcefulness and commitment of that first handful of leaders at our school—who came to Worcester to create what has become an internationally-known academic medical center—is exemplified by no one more so than Dr. Wheeler, who shared Lamar Soutter’s inspirational vision and, through his surgeon’s pragmatism, helped to move it forward to a reality,” said Collins.

A member of numerous professional societies, Wheeler has served as a director of the American Board of Surgery and a governor of the American College of Surgeons. He has served as president of the Boston Surgical Society, the New England Surgical Society and the New England Society of Vascular Surgery, as well as the Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Surgeons. In 1984, he received the Distinguished Service Medal of the University of Massachusetts. In 1990, he was selected to give the Centennial Shattuck Lecture to the Massachusetts Medical Society; in 2005, the society presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. A leader in his field, Wheeler, affectionately known as “Brownie,” was one of the rocks upon which this great medical school was built.

“We feel enormously privileged that these remarkable and distinguished individuals will participate in our Commencement Exercises, and we look forward to welcoming them to campus on June 1,” said Collins.

Commencement Exercises of the University of Massachusetts Worcester will take place on the campus green, with seating beginning at 11 a.m., the processional initiating at 11:45 a.m., and the ceremony starting promptly at noon. 


Related Slideshow: Top 10 Hospitals in Massachusetts Rated By Patients

Using the latest results from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, also known as the HCAHPS Survey, GoLocal has created a ranking of New England's Best Hospitals Rated by Patients.

Read more about GoLocal's methodology here

Prev Next

#10 Newton-Wellesley Hospital 

Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Newton, MA

New England Rank: 58

No. of Beds: 313

Newton-Wellesley Hospital is a member of Partners Healthcare, a network which connects their facilities to other centers throughout Massachusetts such as MassGeneral. Newton-Wellesley Hospital is also partnered with Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute. 

Highlights: 84% of patients who have stayed at Newton-Wellesley confirmed that they would recommend the hospital. 

Prev Next

#9 Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Center 

Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Center

Palmer, MA

New England Rank: 56

No. of Beds: 74

Established in 1913, Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical center is committed to serving the communities of Quaboag Hills and Pioneer Valley. Wing Memorial Hospital joined UMass Medical Health Care, bolstering its already strong reputation and ensuring quality healthcare.

Highlights: 75% of Wing Memorial Hospital patients reported that they were informed and instructed before receiving any medication. 

Prev Next

#8 Athol Memorial Hospital

Athol Memorial Hospital

Athol, MA

New England Rank: 55

No. of Beds: 25

Athol Memorial hospital staffs 50 physicians to oversee 25 beds. Since 1950 the non-profit Athol Hospital has offered state of the art healthcare, renovating and importing new technology every few years. 

Highlights: 82% of patients said that both their rooms and bathrooms at Athol Memorial hospital were always clean. 

Prev Next

#7 Harrington Memorial Hospital

Harrington Memorial Hospital

Southbridge, MA 

New England Rank: 52

No. of Beds: 114

Southbridge’s own Harrington Memorial Hospital has served the South Central Massachusetts' community since 1931. Harrington Memorial is committed to providing quality healthcare for the local community while upholding their reputation.

Highlights: 82% of patients at Harrington Memorial claimed that their physicians communicated well with them.

Prev Next

#6 Nantucket Cottage

Nantucket Cottage Hospital

Nantucket, MA

New England Rank: 47

No. of beds: 19

Founded in 1911, this not-for-profit regional medical center is the only hospital on Nantucket Island.

Highlights: At Nantucket Cottage Hospital communication reigns supreme—88% of patients reported that their nurses always communicated well, and 86% said the same of doctors.

Prev Next

#5 Mount Auburn Hospital

Mount Auburn Hospital

Cambridge, MA

New England Rank: 42

No. of beds: 213

Founded in 1886 as the first hospital in Cambridge, Mount Auburn provides a number of clinical services to area residents, including cardiac catheterization, laboratory services, rehabilitation services, and specialized services for men, women and seniors.

Highlights: At Mount Auburn communication shines—82% said nurses always communicated well, and 83% said the same of doctors.

Prev Next

#4 New England Baptist

New England Baptist Hospital

Roxbury Crossing, MA

New England Rank: 31

No. of beds: 150

New England Baptist Hospital (NEBH) offers nationally recognized expertise in orthopedic surgery, and is the official hospital of the legendary Boston Celtics, and has provided services to U.S.Olympic teams, elite athletic associations and individual elite athletes. But based on the responses, every patient is treated like an elite athlete.

Highlights: The overall patient experience at New England Baptist was incredibly positive—90% said they would definitely recommend the hospital to another person.

Prev Next

#3 Martha's Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard Hospital

Oak Bluffs, MA

New England Rank: 21

No. of beds: 19

Since its incorporation in April 1921, Martha's Vineyard Hospital has been committed to delivering high-quality, compassionate medical care to each and every member of the Vineyard's year-round and seasonal community, as well as all who visit.

Highlights: The overall patient experience at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital was incredibly positive—83% said they would definitely recommend the hospital to another person.

Prev Next

#2 Clinton Hospital

Clinton Hospital Association

Clinton, MA

New England Rank: 16

No. of beds: 41

Clinton Hospital is a 41-bed nonprofit, acute care community hospital. The mission of the hospital is to deliver high-quality, comprehensive services to the local and extended community with excellence, compassion and competence. Organized in 1889, Clinton Hospital has been a member of UMass Memorial Health Care since 1998.

Highlights: The overall patient experience at Clinton Hospital was incredibly positive—85% said they would definitely recommend the hospital to another person.

Prev Next

#1 Fairview Hospital

Fairview Hospital

Great Barrington, MA

New England Rank: 2

No of beds: 25

An affiliate of Berkshire Health Systems, Fairview Hospital has been the center of healthcare in the southern Berkshires for nearly a century. A federally-designated Critical Access Hospital, Fairview provides a full range of primary care services, including 24-hour Emergency Department, surgery, obstetrics, rehabilitation, cardiology and a comprehensive list of diagnostic services including state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging and laboratory services as well as therapeutic and prevention programs that address the health needs of the community.

Highlights: This hospital that dedicates itself to compassionate care has much to crow about, particularly the work of its nurses, who 91% of respondents said always communicated well with them (the highest ranking in the Top 50).


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