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Dedicated Leader Gives In More Ways Than One

June 22, 2020
Hospice is defined by quality of care at the end of life. For Marion Thompson, it was just the beginning of a 20-plus-year journey with GBMC HealthCare, one that took her through her own personal healthcare journey as well as volunteer leadership roles she came to love as a "second job."

Marion had been chair of Hospice of Howard County when it was bought by Gilchrist and GBMC in the late '90s. The then-GBMC Foundation Board of Directors (now Philanthropy Committee of the GBMC HealthCare Board of Directors) was looking for a representative from Howard County to sit on the Board. As a decades-long resident, Marion fit the bill. She joined the Board, and never looked back, eventually becoming chair of the Foundation, helping to secure funds for the hospital. In 2009, she joined the HealthCare Board and served on multiple committees throughout her 20 years of service to GBMC.

The now-retired human resources executive has prioritized giving back through volunteer roles and philanthropy throughout her professional career. Her healthcare experience made giving to GBMC even more meaningful.

"Not long after I joined I was diagnosed with breast cancer," Marion said. "My family physician in Columbia advised me to call a certain surgeon in Howard County. But I said, 'You know, I recently joined the Board at GBMC and I would feel better having it done there.'"

Dr. Lauren Schnaper, Dr. Sheri Slezak and Barbara Raksin, RN of the Sandra and Malcolm Berman Breast Care Center at GBMC, along with now-retired oncologist Dr. Gary Cohen, took care of Marion, who completed treatment 20 years ago, including a mastectomy, chemotherapy and reconstruction.

"At GBMC, I had excellent advice, treatment and compassionate care during my breast care journey," Marion said.

"It became apparent to me that one of the ways people can give back is by joining boards. That's the way corporations are governed, and experienced executives are needed for these oversee roles. It also seemed to me all boards could use someone with human resources knowledge since most boards have HR challenges at some point, just like any company. I felt like I was making a contribution; I enjoyed the work; I enjoyed the people, so I stayed until this last July when my term ended."

Marion might have served her time on the Board of Directors, but she is still a leader for GBMC. Her many gifts over the years have supported various oncology programs, including the Breast Center, the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination and Domestic Violence program, the Yvonne Kahlert Chapel and what brought her to GBMC in the first place – Gilchrist.

Her most recent gift to The Promise Project brought her giving to more than $250,000 cumulatively, and she will be honored as a member of the Joseph S. Keelty Society at the next induction. Her commitment to GBMC's campaign was a desire to make GBMC’s physical environment vibrant and competitive, and in keeping with the already renowned excellent care provided by the hospital staff.

"GBMC is a wonderful hospital with excellent clinicians giving extraordinary care, but the facility is not new and modern as compared to many other Baltimore hospitals," Marion said. "It's time for our facilities to be as superb as our care and I’m very happy to help make that happen."

At 76 years old, Marion looks forward to many more years volunteering for GBMC HealthCare, a place appreciative of her commitment to making GBMC the community hospital for generations of families to come.
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