Samantha Marie Salzberg was born at Morristown Memorial Hospital in the spring of 1987. Soon after her birth, doctors determined that Samantha was suffering from a heart ailment and needed to be transferred to a facility that could offer specialized care that Morristown Memorial could not, at the time, provide.
During her transfer to Columbia Presbyterian in Manhattan, Samantha developed an infection that eventually destroyed her immune system; she died two months later.
East Hanover resident Steve Salzberg, Samantha’s dad, was determined that other parents be spared the grief he’d experienced – and that other babies have top-notch neo-natal intensive care available to them right here in Morristown.
He and his wife Doris have since worked tirelessly to bring to life his vision of a top-tier neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) at Morristown Memorial Hospital.
And so it has happened: “Sam’s NICU” opened in March 2008 at Goryeb Children’s Hospital, in a new section dedicated to NICU kids. Today, Morristown Memorial Hospital is a premier provider of neonatal intensive care in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
A father’s love
About 14 percent of the 3,500 babies born at Morristown Memorial Hospital each year require specialized care in the NICU. And they have it today, thanks to Sam’s NICU.
There are 34 rooms now, private or semi-private, and space for parents to stay with their children while they get better. Comfortable family areas in each patient room make Sam’s NICU so different from the days when even Columbia Presbyterian’s facility consisted only of beds with curtains between them. The NICU can treat up to 45 babies at one time and even accommodate multiple birth babies.
Sam’s Fund was established in 1998 by Steve and Doris. A few years later they pledged $1.5 million to have the new NICU named in Samantha’s memory. Steve and Doris have raised over $400,000 so far, via a series of fundraising drives and events: dinners, music events, a golf outing. Together, they have lent immense moral support to the effort as well – and Doris volunteers at the NICU each Thursday as a “hugger.”
Another fundraiser is in the works for next Friday, Feb. 18: Jeff Caldwell and Jane Condon will bring their comedy to the Hanover Manor, at 16 Eagle Rock Avenue in East Hanover.
The benefit starts at 7 o’clock, and a ticket ($80 per person, half of that tax-deductible) is admission to a cocktail reception and complete buffet dinner and dessert, as well as a live band, raffles and an auction.
Jeff Caldwell (www.standupguy.com) has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson; his act has been described as “clean and clever,” with a quirky point of view. (George Carlin called him “funny and smart” after a show at Caroline’s in New York.)
Jane Condon (www.janecondon.com) lives in Greenwich, Connecticut (“but she’s still a nice person”) and was the New York Audience Favorite on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. She writes for the Huffington Post and CNN.com; Associated Press called her “an upper-crust Roseanne.” The mother of two riffs on marriage, husband, kids, politics and other topics.
Steve’s an amateur comic himself. His wife gave him the gift of classes at comedy school – Caroline’s in Manhattan — as a 40th birthday present. He’ll do about 15 minutes of stand-up himself, in between the two professionals; he does observational comedy.
It’s the second annual comedy night benefit for Sam’s NICU – and everybody’s welcome. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Steve Salzberg at 973-319-8300 ext. 204, or visit www.samsnicu.com.