Dr. Andy Zupan

A new infant intubation device has been ordered for the nursery at Mercy Hospital Washington. Somewhere the late Dr. Andy Zupan, the beloved Mercy pediatrician who passed away suddenly last Feb. 15, is smiling.

“He believed in having state of the art medical equipment always available . . . being on the cutting edge of getting that equipment,” said Rachel Covington, executive director of philanthropy for Mercy Hospital Washington.

Purchasing such pediatric equipment for the hospital and its McAuley Clinic, which serves families who cannot afford to pay for medical care on their own, is one of the three objectives of the Dr. Andy Zupan Memorial Fund. Others are providing pediatric charity care and continuing medical education in pediatrics.

The fund was established last March, just weeks after Dr. Zupan died, in response to “a groundswell” from his co-workers, patients and the overall community, said Covington.

“We just started getting phone calls and inquires of whether we were going to do something special for Dr. Zupan,” she recalled. “It became pretty obvious to me early on that it would be a great testament to do something in his name. Of course, what does that look like and what do you do?

“Thoughts of a bench or a tree did come up, but as we discerned through the process, we wanted something that was indicative of what he would have liked to see done. The three areas that the fund is for are the three areas that he was very passionate about.”

The fund is overseen by a committee that includes Dr. Michelle L. Beumer, Dr. Zupan’s partner at Riverside Pediatrics;

Dr. Todd Craig, who worked with Dr. Zupan for four years at the McAuley Clinic;

Chandra Alsop, Stacy Ayers, Dr. David Brunworth, Mark Covington, Rachel Covington, Sharon Grimes, Dr. Gregory Potts and Sandi Hillermann-McDonald.

Inaugural Lecture Held

Just before Thanksgiving, the inaugural lecture in the pediatric education series was filled to capacity. Dr. John F. Mantovani, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Medical Director Therapy and Development Center at Mercy Children’s Hospital St. Louis, spoke to a crowd of over 125 people Tuesday, Nov. 26, on the topic of “Autism 2013: Facts, Myths and Uncertainties.”

The audience included mostly medical staff — pediatricians, nurse practitioners and nurses — who were all invited, as well as community members and special education teachers, who learned of the lecture by word-of-mouth.

It was heart-warming to see such a large turnout, said Covington. That could have been a result of this specific topic, but it does show the interest in pediatric studies is strong here.

The topic for the annual lecture will change year to year, but it will always be pediatric related, Covington noted.

Caring for Neediest Pediatric Patients

Details on how best to provide care for the neediest pediatric patients is still being worked out, said Covington, but the process will involve referrals, either from the McAuley Clinic, the emergency room, the hospital, a physicians office or the like.

“The committee we have in place for the fund will be the ultimate decision maker,” she said.

“We want to be good stewards of this fund.”

Accepting Donations

To date the fund has raised $63,000 toward its goal of $100,000 by March 2014, its one-year anniversary.

The goal was set for an amount that the committee believes can sustain the fund with a certain percentage being used and the balance being invested to grow.

“We want this to be an ongoing opportunity, in perpetuity would be wonderful, but we certainly want to look to the next five years,” said Covington.

To do that, the fund needs the support of the community, she stressed.

“We can’t do that by ourselves. We do need the community to get behind it.

“And I think there is a lot of feelings to do that,” said Covington. “People felt very strongly about Andy and what he stood for, so we’re appealing to them to see if they can help us, especially this time of year.”

For more information, or to contribute to the Andy Zupan Memorial Fund, people can visit mercy.net/washingtonmo/giving or send checks payable to Mercy Health Foundation Washington directly to Mercy Health Foundation Washington, Ms. Rachel A. Covington, Executive Director Philanthropy, 901 E. 5th St., Suite 210, Washington, MO 63090.

To speak to someone about the fund, people may call 636-239-8882.

‘True Advocate for Children’

For those who were not familiar with Dr. Zupan, he joined the Mercy staff in 2003 to practice primarily with Mercy’s women’s and children’s health services.

He and his wife Lori, with their three children, relocated to Washington from southeastern Indiana, where he practiced community pediatrics for six years.

Zupan received his medical degree and Ph.D. from the Washington University School of Medicine and completed his residency in pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where he served as chief resident from 1995 to 1996.

He was a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Zupan came to Mercy in Washington to serve children at the McAuley Clinic, where he made a reputation of living the Mercy value of serving others. He was passionate about serving those in need and especially serving the most vulnerable children.

Here, Dr. Zupan established a pediatrics program in the emergency department at Mercy Hospital Washington, served as the chairperson for pediatrics services at the hospital and also volunteered in the community.

Dr. Craig described him as “a pillar of the community.” He was “someone so many people feel a connection to; a great colleague, a caring friend.

“Patients loved Dr. Zupan, and Dr. Zupan loved his patients. He took his time with them and got to know them and the entire family. He treated them with respect and compassion, and if he could include games to distract a patient or get a patient’s attention, he did that, and the kids just loved it.”

Dr. Beumer agreed.

“He was a true advocate for children,” she said. “He reached out to families facing hardships from poverty and drug abuse to chronic illness and social stigma.

“He offered help to kids and families who often don’t receive the help they need.”