Munson Health
Dudley and Barbara Smith

Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2007 issue of Focus.

Dudley and Barbara Smith were invited last month to take an early look at the new breast health center that will bear their name after donating $1 million to the project.

As they stepped past ongoing construction, they noticed the soft whispers of color that had been selected to relax and calm the people who will soon fill these rooms. They learned about the speed and quality of the diagnostic equipment that will be installed. They heard about comfortable new patient robes and increased privacy that patients will soon enjoy.

"It’s just marvelous," Dudley said after touring what will now be named the Smith Family Breast Health Center in the Copper Ridge Development off West Silver Lake Road in Traverse City. "I’m very impressed with what Munson is doing. With the Emergency Department, the Heart Center, and now the Breast Health Center, it’s all been done beautifully. They seem to have taken everything into account."

The new center is scheduled to open on Valentine’s Day 2008. In the course of a year, 23,000 people are expected to walk through the doors for screening and diagnostic services.

"We are deeply grateful to Dudley and Barb Smith for their extraordinary generosity," said Ed Ness, President and CEO of Munson Medical Center. "Their gift will save lives and will help keep families whole. Community support has become crucial to maintaining the high level of health care we need in northern Michigan, and the Smiths are doing tremendous service to the community through
this gift."

During their tour, the Smiths were pleased to hear Kathleen McManus, Senior Vice President of Munson Medical Center, describe how screenings and   diagnosis will be more timely, and how no one will be turned away because of an inability to pay for services.

"This opens it up to more women who can come in and get the treatment they need," Barbara said. "Munson has been wonderful, but all of us know women who have gone down that long drawn out process of diagnosis. The length of time it takes is so draining for women and for their families and friends."

Barbara recalled a distressing week she spent waiting for biopsy results. "We need to do anything we can to move the process along so women don’t have that awful wait," she said. "A lot of people go through this." Statistically, one in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. "Besides the obvious effect on the cancer patient, it is also the impact breast cancer has on the entire family that was instrumental in us wanting to do something," Dudley said. "I can’t think of a more worthwhile project than a medical facility. This is so wide reaching. It’s not just giving to Munson - it’s giving to the community."

The Smiths raised their son and daughter in Traverse City after moving north from Madison Heights in 1973. They are now retired and enjoy the company of their three grandchildren.    

"This has been a wonderful place to raise a family," Barbara said. "You give back where you can, and where you see a need - and this happens to be a very compelling need."