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Continuing His Promise to GBMC Oncology

January 1, 2023

He retired 6 years ago, but his patients and those who care for them remain deeply appreciative to Dr. Cohen, the retired Medical Director of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Cancer Institute. In the years since his retirement, Dr. Cohen has demonstrated his continued dedication to GBMC and its oncology program several times. Most recently, he has made a generous gift to the Sandra R. Berman Pavilion campaign.

Patients and visitors to the oncology clinic in the new building will be greeted by a sign commemorating the gift as they rest for a moment before meeting with their oncologist. “I’m fortunate to have been in a place like GBMC, where my skills as a clinician and as an administrator were both appreciated,” Dr. Cohen says.

Even as he was building a world-class cancer program, Dr. Cohen was devoted to his patients. Expert, compassionate care has been a hallmark of his practice and of the Berman Cancer Institute from the start. It’s one of the things Dr. Cohen is proudest of as he looks back on his years at GBMC. Dr. Cohen was also a key driver in establishing the clinical trials program, which has elevated the Berman Cancer Institute and benefited all patients at GBMC.

“Clinical trials were what placed us at the cutting edge of cancer care,” Dr. Cohen recalls. “It brought local and national recognition.” The program is still unusually robust for a community hospital. And it continues to offer patients the same advance technology and treatments they might expect from an academic center.

Dr. Cohen is equally proud of having helped to found Gilchrist Hospice, which, in the early 1990s, was a patient-centered extension of the cancer program. Cancer diagnosis and treatment have advanced dramatically since then, so that more patients have excellent outcomes. And patients with diagnoses other than cancer can also participate in hospice care. Dr. Cohen is proud of the fact that GBMC invested in starting a program knowing it wouldn’t be profitable without ongoing philanthropy. But, as Dr. Cohen says, “It was the right thing do to!

“It was important for us, as a community hospital, to have a patient focus,” he says. Providing hospice care to patients at end of life was part of meeting that goal.

As the oncology program grew – adding the Sheila K. Riggs Radiation Oncology Center, the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Comprehensive Breast Care Center, the Milton J. Dance, Jr. Head & Neck Center, state-of-the-art infusion services, the gynecologic oncology program and general surgery – it became spread across the hospital. Dr. Cohen has been personally involved with the design of the Sandra R. Berman Pavilion, which will give cancer patients a single destination for care. And with this gift, he is making a personal investment in the project.

All of Dr. Cohen’s achievements on behalf of the Berman Cancer Institute, along with the ways those achievements have enhanced GBMC’s reputation and the care it provides the community, inspired his induction as one of GBMC’s Titans of Care. His generosity has earned him membership in both the Joseph S. Keelty Society and the Elizabeth Duncan Yaggy Society.

This recent gift is, for Dr. Cohen, more than an investment. Through it, he will honor the memory of his wife, Charlene M. Cohen, who died in 2018. “She was very committed to GBMC,” he says. The thought of their names being there to greet patients when they first arrive warms his heart. He says he is happy to be able to contribute.

“It feels really good,” he says, “to be able to support something that was such an important part of my life journey along the way.”

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