After sitting idly in the hands of the state for five years, a bequest of $100,000 designated to help mentally challenged and blind Jewish children was turned over to Cedars-Sinai’s Maxine Dunitz Children’s Health Center in December.
The donation, which has been named the Beatrice Mazure Fund in honor of the donor, will be used primarily to care for children in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
“We plan to use the funds from the bequest to provide operational support toward preventing, diagnosing and treating common neurological problems in premature infants and children of Jewish faith,” said Dr. Charles F. Simmons, a chair of neonatology in the department of pediatrics at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
The funds were turned over to the state after a bank was unable to find a charity that matched the wording in the bequest, which called for the donation to benefit “blind and retarded Jewish children.”
Last year, a representative from the state attorney general’s office contacted Cedars-Sinai with the goal of matching the money to an appropriate organization.
Representatives from Cedars-Sinai said the call was totally unexpected.
“We didn’t know anything about the donor,” said Ellen Cheney, a senior development officer for the hospital. “[She] had no connection to Cedars.”
After completing an application process and waiting nearly a year, the hospital received the decision to hand the funds over from a state court on Dec. 9, 2010.
Cedars’ mission doesn’t directly match the designation in the bequest, however babies in the NICU have an increased risk of developing neurological problems, as well as a higher risk for a disease that can lead to blindness.
“One of the most common causes of blindness in childhood is called retinopathy of prematurity,” said Simmons. “Cedars has been at the forefront of finding ways to minimize instances of that disorder in our most premature babies, and this wonderful opportunity makes it likely that we can be even more effective.”
In that sense, the funds will address the concerns laid out in the bequest by providing preventive care. According to Simmons, the department hopes to purchase imaging tools as well as provide increased funding for staff.
Cheney says that credit for linking the money to Cedars-Sinai should go to the state representatives who first reached out to the hospital.
“The office has this Robin Hood mentality, of finding money like this and getting [it] to deserving charities,” she said.