In 1956, when Dr. Harold Stein first arrived in the area where The Scarborough Hospital’s general campus now stands, there was nothing but a few dirt roads. He drove his mentor, Dr. Maxwell Bochner, to meet with the Sisters of Misericorde who helped them to purchase the land, which would be used to create the hospital.
“I’m probably the only guy here that remembers the Sisters and how it started,” Stein said. “We brought a lot of things to Scarborough General when they built it.”
Stein ensured that no one would forget his contributions to the hospital and the 35 years he spent as head of ophthalmology – with a $1-million donation.
“They supported a lot of innovations in ophthalmology. So that’s why I contributed,” Stein said. “They were good to me and so I was good to them.”
Michael Mazza, president of The Scarborough Hospital Foundation, is understandably excited to have received such a large donation.
“We have a lot of equipment we need to buy and we have some new projects we need to build like our OR (operating room) suites and our digital imaging concourse and this helps pave the way,” Mazza said.
But this isn’t just any donation. It’s the first time a gift of such a large amount has been given by one of the hospital’s own.
“This is a family that was here before the first brick was laid. So it’s exciting because there’s such a long history to it,” Mazza said. “And it’s exciting when a physician reflects on their career and says ‘the work that is being done today is more important than ever and I want to invest in it.’”
That’s how Stein feels now that he has enough money to provide for his family. His children don’t necessarily agree.
“I’m leaving them memories and a legacy instead of cash,” Stein said. “But they do a great job at the hospital and it takes a lot of staff, so I made a contribution. Hopefully I’m going to drag some of my friends in, too.”
This is what Mazza is hoping for. He’s working on getting the community to understand the need for donations like this one.
“Gifts of this size set an example and attract more gifts. They create a buzz,” Mazza said. “In the last few years we’ve been able to find donors that are interested in making gifts of this magnitude and each one we find seems to lead us to a new one.”
The Scarborough Hospital wasn’t the only hospital that the world-renowned eye surgeon worked at. He also worked at Mount Sinai Hospital in downtown Toronto, but it wasn’t quite the same.
“Scarborough was always the best,” Stein said. “I had my most memorable experiences there and so that’s where I decided to donate.”