Ugne Aleknaite, nurse practitioner and clinical leader of Nantucket Cottage Hospital’s oncology program, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Seinfeld / Hartmann Compassionate Care Prize. The announcement was made at the hospital’s annual meeting on Friday.
In leading the hospital’s Hematology-Oncology program, Ugne provides direct patient care, ranging from diagnosis to chemotherapy and advance care planning for patients on Nantucket. Ugne was recognized by family members of patients for providing exceptional care during their loved ones’ final months of life. One family member noted “Ugne has a really special way of being able to deliver devastating news with empathy and true humanity. So many medical professionals could learn from her, how to be empathetic and caring, but also how to be realistic and honest. It is a real balance that I have rarely seen in a caregiver. When my (family member’s) condition was deteriorating, she spoke to us with such grace, but also with an understanding that the news she was delivering would change our lives.”
In 2021, Seinfeld doubled her commitment to the Seinfeld/Hartmann Prize with another $50,000 contribution in honor of her late son, Steven, who passed away on October 2020. The additional gift doubled the cash prize awarded to Aleknaite.
She will receive a custom designed pin crafted by Jewel In The Sea and a $4,000 cash prize.
At the end of his life, Dr. Robert H. Seinfeld and his family received a great deal of comfort from hospital staff members who in doing their jobs also exhibited extraordinary compassion. The Seinfeld/Hartmann Prize for Compassionate Medical Care was established by Dr. Robert Seinfeld’s wife, Judith Greenberg Seinfeld, who during her career has devoted much of her time to philanthropic organizations in several states and has been honored for her work.
In addition to honoring Dr. Robert H. Seinfeld, The Seinfeld/Hartmann Prize for Compassionate Medical Care celebrates former President and CEO Dr. Margot Hartmann for her commitment and leadership of Nantucket Cottage Hospital. Dr. Hartmann served as President and CEO from 2010 to 2019, leading the charge to secure the future of healthcare on Nantucket with a new, state-of-the-art medical facility that opened in 2019.
The hospital announced a handful of other awards on Friday, including:
Sandy Craig Leadership Award:
- Dr. Elizabeth Hallett – “When Dr. Elizabeth Hallett became the Superintendent of the Nantucket Public Schools on July 1, 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic she was stepping into an extraordinary leadership challenge. 5 weeks later she presented the community with a 50 page comprehensive plan for safely reopening the Nantucket Public Schools in a new hybrid model of education. Throughout the pandemic Dr. Hallett coordinated closely with NCH and the Nantucket Department of Health to provide for the safety of NPS employees, students and their families.”
Bruce A. Percelay Philanthropy Award:
- Melanie Sabelhaus – “Melanie Sabelhaus has been a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair or co-Chair of the Marketing and Development committee since 2018. Her impact on philanthropy at NCH goes back much further. She has Chaired the Boston Pops on Nantucket twice and her energy and innovations transformed the Pops into Nantucket’s most treasured event. She was also a founding co-chair of the popular annual Women+Wellness event. Most recently, her relentless effort to build support for NCH despite the cancellation of The Pops concert in 2020 and 2021 has been critical to NCH’s financial stability.”
Phil Murray Business Award:
- 97.7 ACK-FM, Nantucket’s ‘True Island Radio’ – “The radio and digital media company is a trusted media partner that was instrumental in communicating NCH’s messages to the community throughout the pandemic. As information during the pandemic was constantly evolving, NCH relied on Executive Vice President, Laura Burnett and her team to quickly relay messages to the community and their efforts contributed significantly to the success of the testing and vaccination programs. In 2021, 97.7 ACK-FM gave additional support to NCH in the form of a gift in memory of Dr. Robert Shapiro. Owned by Jeff Shapiro, the company’s media products include the radio stations 97.7 ACK-FM and 89.5 Quahog Country, and the digital newsletters Daybreak and Mahon About Town.”
Myrt Eldridge Volunteer of the Year:
- Meryl Bralower – “Meryl is one of three women who co-founded Women+Wellness, an annual event that brings likeminded individuals together to learn about health and wellness-related topics from NCH and MGB clinicians. Since founding the event in 2017, Meryl has co-chaired each year’s event and personally recruited leading MGH clinicians as speakers Meryl is the consummate volunteer who is always willing to cheerful address and challenge.”
The NCH Board of Trustees also welcomed one new member, Lisa Clarey-Lawler, and thanked three outgoing members, Jack Burke, Bruce Chabner and Liz Winship.