Major Gift Propels Emergency Department Expansion

Madison, Wisconsin - The UW School of Medicine and Public Health department of emergency medicine has received a $10 million gift from James G. Berbee and Karen A. Walsh of Madison, WI.


The gift will be used for a major expansion of the UW Hospital and Clinics emergency facility and will provide sustainable academic support to the department of emergency medicine.


“This incredibly generous gift will have a profound impact, not only for the thousands of patients who come here for emergency care, but also for education and training of future generations of clinicians and the discovery process that will improve future care,” said Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.  “We are deeply grateful that our vision for advancing emergency care in Madison to an even higher level resonated so strongly with Jim and Karen.”


Four million dollars of the gift, which will be matched by UW Hospital and Clinics, will support a doubling in the clinical footprint of the hospital emergency department.  Department of emergency medicine Chair Dr. Azita Hamedani said the department will be expanded from the current 34 beds to more than 50 treatment areas to meet growing patient demand. Annual patient volume has increased by more than 50 percent from 2006 to last year.


The balance of $6 million will allow the department of emergency medicine to support research projects, faculty development, education and training programs, and other innovative projects.  Four new endowed chairs will be established, including a vice-chair for research, which will allow the department to recruit nationally-recognized leaders in this area.


UW-Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge will match $3.5 million of the $10 million Berbee Walsh gift making the gift effectively $13.5 million  Last November, the Morgridge family donated $100 million in matching funds to support endowed faculty positions.


“Both Karen and I are very grateful to John and Tashia Morgridge for their years of steadfast support of our University and for doubling the magnitude of the endowed portion of our gift,” said Berbee.


The Berbee Walsh gift was initiated last year with funds to endow the chair of the newly-formed department of emergency medicine.  Hamedani was named the department’s first chair, “The Distinguished Wisconsin Endowed Chair of Emergency Medicine.”


“One of the department’s immediate priorities is full implementation of its clinical and academic missions for the direct benefit of the citizens of Wisconsin and beyond,” said Hamedani.  “Philanthropic support like the Berbee Walsh gift will allow us to provide outstanding patient care and exceptional education and training for the next generation of physicians and emergency medicine leaders. Successful research programs attract the nation’s best faculty and trainees.” 


“We know that our gift to emergency medicine, under Dr. Azita Hamedani’s leadership, will be a successful investment in our community,” said Berbee.  “We want to improve access to the best health care that our community offers. We also want to support the long tradition of Wisconsin being a leader in new ideas through research.”


Karen Walsh is a graduate of UW-Madison with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism. She worked for UW- Madison for 23 years, finishing her career as an assistant dean in the College of Engineering. She has served on various community boards, and is currently on the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine board of visitors and co-chair of their capital campaign.    


Dr. James Berbee, founder and former chairman of Berbee Information Networks Corporation, is also a graduate of UW-Madison with degrees in mechanical engineering and business. After graduating from Stanford Medical School, he completed his emergency medicine training at UW Hospital and Clinics and now works as an emergency physician in Madison and rural Wisconsin. 


Hamedani is confident the additional funds, as well as Berbee’s and Walsh’s involvement and support will ensure the newly named Berbee Walsh department of emergency medicine continues as a local resource while increasingly becoming a national leader.

Date Published: 02/26/2015

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