Edith “Edie” Windsor, who passed away in September 2017, will always be remembered for being the catalyst in overturning Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for same-sex marriage in the United States. Windsor was also a beloved Southamptonite, an integral part of the area’s community for many years. To honor her legacy and life, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s HIV/AIDS treatment and outreach program, The David E. Rogers, MD Center will be renamed The Edith Windsor Center later this year.
“Edie Windsor was a good friend of the hospital and part of our family, and her death really inspired us to honor her work and her legacy,” says Stony Brook Southampton Hospital’s Chief Development Officer Steven Bernstein. “It made perfect sense at this time, as our David E. Rogers center is about to enter into a transition, to rethink it and reinvent it, and in the process honor the life and legacy of someone who is such an iconic figure in the LGBTQ community.” The Center currently provides outpatient services, including HIV testing, treatment and support services for those living with HIV/AIDS.
The hospital is currently working to expand the center’s already comprehensive programs, and will take this transitional time to honor Windsor, as well as others, for their exceptional contributions to the LGBTQ world. “We’re not only going to rename the center; we’re also going to undertake a million-dollar capital campaign to relocate the center from its present site in Southampton to a site in Hampton Bays, to expand its current range of programs and present an award every year to someone who best emulates Edie’s life and work. It’s an opportunity that works on all levels for us,” Bernstein says.
Part of the fundraising campaign will take place at Edie’s Backyard BBQ, an annual Hamptons event held every Memorial Day weekend. The hospital is also working on a gift campaign and hopes to secure funds from both individuals and organizations.
Bernstein hopes that by renaming and relocating the Center, more people will become aware of its services. “People love the Center. People who get treatment there and people who know of the Center hold it in the highest regard because it’s the only one of its kind on the East End,” he explains. “Part of the problem for us is that too few people know about it. In doing what we’re doing, in undertaking this campaign, it gives us an opportunity to call attention to the Center in a very meaningful and productive way. This will heighten public awareness about the Center and what it does. Our intention is not only to raise the funds needed to support the Center and its current and proposed set of programs but also [educate] the people on the East End and beyond.”
The Center is just one of the many initiatives for the hospital that have sprung up in the wake of the merger with Stony Brook Medicine, which was made official in 2017. “Our partnership with Stony Brook Medicine has been very positive and important for the entire operation,” Bernstein says. “It’s given us an opportunity to raise the level of care we provide to the East End across the board. The looming prospect of building a new hospital on the campus of [Stony Brook Southampton] is very exciting. The opportunity to build a satellite emergency department in East Hampton is very exciting. So our coming together with Stony Brook has been a very positive move for us and the community. In the months and years to come, the impact of that partnership will be even greater.”
It’s an exciting time for Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and the LGBTQ population of the East End, to be sure. “It’s an opportunity to reimagine the healthcare landscape of the East End,” Bernstein says. “We’re not going to get a chance to do this again in our lifetime, and we want to do it right and provide our community with the best possible care, and we’re taking the steps in our planning process to make sure that’s the case. This initiative, our ability to enhance and call attention to this center to renaming it, is just one part of them.”
Windsor would be proud.