Article Katherine Watson
Northside Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute recently received a generous donation from a gentleman who simply wanted to thank the doctors and nurses who took care of his mother during a recent hospital stay.
David Halpern, of Dunwoody, came to Northside in January of last year, after his mother suffered a heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. It was her birthday. Cardiologist Dr. Jack Chen and his team performed a 2 1/2 hour emergency heart procedure. According to Halpern, his mother received the best birthday gift of all that day… the gift of life.
“How do you thank a group of special people that saved your mother’s life? How do you tell each and every one of them they are special and unique and precious?” asked Halpern. During his mother’s recovery, Halpern reached out to Margaret Henry, manager of the Progressive Coronary Care Unit (PCCU) and Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Northside.
“When Mr. Halpern first approached me and told me that he was interested in giving a gift of recognition, I was optimistic, but not sure exactly what he had in mind,” said Henry. “He expressed an interest in recognizing our staff and asked me what we could do with a donation. I told him how I’d like to make it easier for our nurses to receive certification and training, which sometimes can be cost prohibitive. His eyes lit up when I said that.”
Subsequently, the Halpern Family Scholarship was created. Each year, one nurse from Northside’s PCCU/CCU will be awarded a scholarship to attend the annual National Teaching Institute (NTI) & Critical Care Exposition, an elite opportunity for nurses. Additional funds will be used to pay for nurses to receive Certification in Cardiac-Vascular Nursing. The scholarship fund will receive annual installments from the Halpern family.
“Now, I can annually say thank you to you all and support [Northside’s] efforts to enhance your career knowledge and skills to be the best professionals you can be,” said Halpern, at a March 7 awards celebration at Northside.“Thank you for the wonderful scholarship to attend NTI conference,” said Marilee Pearson, nurse on Northside’s PCCU and this year’s Halpern Family Scholarship recipient. “When I return, I plan to share the information and the excitement with the PCCU/CCU staff. Hopefully, other nurses will be inspired to obtain their certification and apply to win next year.”
Certification in cardiac-vascular nursing was awarded to Pearson, along with fellow nurses Nicole Ajavon, Mary Torbert and Katherine Magruder.
Halpern also took time to recognize the actions of Dr. Chen.
“I tried to thank Dr. Chen, but he told me he is only one member of a larger team of professionals who acted in concert to care for my mother,” said Halpern.
“Dr. Chen is not just recognized by his extensive and impressive accolades, but for his gift in providing outstanding patient care, which was evident in the care he provided to Mrs. Halpern,” said Henry. “He consistently challenges the staff, never accepting the status quo, and he instills confidence in us by contributing to our educational growth and development.”
Permanent plaques have been placed on Northside’s PCCU to honor Dr. Chen and recognize each year’s scholarship winner.

Caption: From left are Margaret Henry, manager of the Progressive Coronary Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit at Northside Hospital; Marilee Pearson, Halpern Family Scholarship recipient; Dr. Jack Chen, cardiologist; David Halpern; and Beverly Hunt, director of medical/surgical services, Northside Hospital.