By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Nov. 29, 2019) An appropriate tune to have played at Atlantic General Hospital’s Motown party last Friday night at the Aloft Hotel in Ocean City would have been the 1964 “Martha and the Vandellas hit, “Dancin’ in the Street.”
That, most likely, is what the hospital’s leadership and supporters felt like doing when Atlantic General Hospital Foundation Chairman Todd Ferrante announced that Rolfe and Ioana Gudelsky were donating $4 million to AGH’s Campaign for the Future.
The party, which marked the end of the three-year campaign, went $2.5 million over its $10 million goal with the donation from the Gudelskys, who own Ocean City Fishing Center, Sunset Marina, Sunset Grille and Micky Fins, all in West Ocean City, along with other holdings.
“It was very important to my uncle, Albert Berger, who worked extensively with Atlantic General Hospital, he’s been with Ocean City since forever,” Rolfe Gudelsky said. “Giving back to the community is very important to us and is part of our mantra.”
One of the main reasons for the Gudelskys’ generosity was the overall generosity of the resort-area community itself.
“It’s a great little community and as you can see, we’re not the only ones who donated,” Gudelsky said. “Everybody donated … look how many small donors we have here. Everybody gave what they can. Money is not always the most important … you have to look at how many people donated their time for these events.”
“This donation is just fantastic,” said John “Jack” Burbage Jr., co-chairman of the Campaign for the Future executive committee. “The Gudelsky family has been so kind and good to us. They’re just wonderful people who are very giving and very kind. We’ve very, very happy.”
Co-Chairwoman Michelle Fager also expressed her gratitude, not just for the massive donation, but for everyone who contributed.
“We just want to say thank you so much to each and every person in this room,” Fager said. “You’ve all given to the campaign in some way, shape or form and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people in our community that aren’t here tonight that would want to say thank you for the services they have been able to receive at the cancer care center, women’s health center and other projects we were able to do because of this campaign.”
The campaign money will be used for several projects, including a 70,000 square foot emergency department and outpatient services expansion, which will be developed on Route 589 in Ocean Pines.
“We’re going to start a new project on Route 589, which is going to be named after the Gudelsky family,” Burbage said. “It’s going to be a 70,000-square-foot building with an ambulatory center in it and many other services that Atlantic General Hospital will offer. It will be fantastic and this will help support it. It’s going to be wonderful for the community and a lot of new services offered.”
The sentiment felt throughout the party was shared by Atlantic General Hospital President and CEO Michael Franklin as well.
“Exceeding our $10 million goal is a testament to the generosity of our community,” Franklin said. “More importantly for Atlantic General Hospital, it is a demonstration of trust from the community that we will create and deliver the care and services that our community will need into the future. The Gudelsky family’s gift is a wonderful and enduring statement of their family’s affection for our community, and we are forever thankful to them.”
Other programs in the offing or already have been completed include a new Women’s Health Center with 3D mammography screening (completed in 2017), the opening of the John H. “Jack” Burbage, Jr. Regional Cancer Care Center (completed in 2018), a renovated inpatient care area inside the hospital, and updated technology and surgical facilities.
The Gudelskys plan to remain involved in the community however they can.
“Whether it’s been the hospital, the fire department, local charities, softball teams, we’re always very involved,” Gudelsky said. “I’m very proud of the community. Look how many $1,000 donations were made. You don’t get that from small towns like this. When small towns support each other like this … they’re unbeatable. Look at the hours people volunteer around here, let alone the money. That’s a better show of charity. This is a strong community … always has been.”