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Donor Profile

Merle Santerian

Honoring family and community

Corinne Santerian in 1999
with her three children,
Allison, Ned and Meredith

Many still remember Santerian's Department Store as a family treasure and a strong thread in the fabric of community life.

The Hatboro and Lansdale landmark closed its doors in 2001, but Merle Santerian continues to honor both family and community through her generous philanthropy. That generosity made possible a new pediatric facility at Abington Memorial Hospital. Named in memory of Merle's daughter, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 40, the Corinne Santerian Newborn Center provides well-baby care for many who otherwise could not afford it.

"When Corinne was with us she often told my mother and me about wanting to give back to the community some day and in some way," Merle recalls. She has contemplated, over the years since her daughter's passing, ways that this might be accomplished. In 2007, after reading an issue of Profiles of Giving, Merle was inspired to contact former AMH Board Chair Lorraine Pruitt, whom she knew through the Lower Moreland schools and community. She told Lorraine of her desire to do something at Abington Memorial Hospital, where Corinne had been on staff for 10 years.

Lorraine put Merle in touch with the AMH Fund Development staff, who "got the ball rolling" and introduced Merle to Steven A. Shapiro, D.O., chair of the hospital's Pediatrics Department. Dr. Shapiro suggested the need to help families of newborns who have no health insurance to cover their babies from birth through three months old. The need is particularly great at Abington Memorial Hospital, which has the largest number of births of any hospital in the area. Thus was born the Corinne Santerian Newborn Center.

Corinne Santerian, D.O., was a board-certified pediatrician who devoted her life to the care and well-being of young patients. Born at Abington Memorial Hospital herself, Dr. Santerian returned as an adult to serve as a member of the hospital's medical staff. She was a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and pursued her pediatric residency at Georgetown University Medical School.

At the completion of her residency, William J. Sohn, M.D., who had been her pediatrician when she was a child, invited Corinne to return to the Philadelphia area and join his practice as soon as she graduated. So, upon returning home, Corinne began her medical career in the practice of Dr. Sohn and Joseph J. Cirotti, M.D. Corinne worked with them for several years, and then joined her husband, Dr. William Moore, whom she married in1991, at Buckingham Pediatrics, where she worked until her passing. She and her husband had three children, of whom two have expressed interest in following in her medical footsteps.

The Corinne Santerian Newborn Center honors Corinne's legacy by providing well-baby care for newborns, up to the age of three months, who are delivered at the hospital's OB/GYN Center. The OB/GYN Center provides low- or no-cost gynecological and
obstetrical services to some 1,400 new patients each year, 65 percent of whom have no health insurance. Approximately 20 percent of the 4,800 babies born at Abington Memorial Hospital in 2007 were delivered at the OB/GYN Center.

"Ned would be very happy making this gift for Corinne," Merle says of her late husband, who passed away in 1994. "This is in his honor as well as Corinne's."

Merle says her philanthropy is inspired by her faith.

"What we have is given to us by God.We are his stewards. After taking care of our family and needs, we should give back – be it in time, talent or money – to help others. I try to live my life that way, and believe that the more we give, the more we receive." Merle says she hopes the new Corinne Santerian Newborn Center will be an inspiration for others to step forward and lend their support to the worthwhile programs at Abington Memorial Hospital.