May 14, 2019
Ida Mae "Mazie" Long loved her husband, Robert (Bob), through 52 years of marriage. From their meeting as undergraduate accounting majors at the University of Kansas, where both graduated in 1957, until Bob's death in 2009, Mazie was by his side. And in the decade since, she's kept his memory alive while helping thousands of patients, families, physicians and staff at The University of Kansas Health System.
Bob Long, who was chairman of J.E. Dunn Construction Company and became a well-known volunteer and philanthropist in Kansas City, battled heart disease for the last 10 years of his life. Before he died, the Longs together decided to financially support various health-related projects and programs, many of them focused on cardiac care. Mazie remains dedicated to fulfilling that mission.
"When Bob died, some friends of ours gave $10,000 to the health system in Bob's memory, and I decided to match that amount. Together, our gifts funded a symposium for cardiac nurses because Bob always valued the nurses who cared for him, and we wanted to do something to support them," Mazie recalls, citing the first major donation she made to honor her late husband.
Mazie continues that dedicated support today, most recently donating $25,000 toward the Center for Advanced Heart Care's Rapid Recovery Lounge.
"I'm very happy to give what I can to help with heart care at The University of Kansas Health System," she says.
Enhancing patient recovery
The Rapid Recovery Lounge, currently under construction in the Center for Advanced Heart Care, will provide a recovery space for patients who require less complex heart procedures, such as some types of minimally invasive cardiac catheterizations.
Recovery for these procedures, in which physicians perform catheterization through an artery in the arm rather than the groin, is faster and requires less nursing care than traditional procedures. The lounge will allow patients and families to relax in a comfortable, warmly decorated environment during the short recuperation period.
"The lounge will enable the health system to treat more than 2,000 additional patients per year who do not require a bed for catheterization procedures," explains Kristi Hettrick, health system development director for the project. "Recently, the Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation issued a challenge grant in the amount of $100,000 to help complete the project. Mazie Long's generous gift will help us as we work to meet the challenge set forth by the Gottlieb foundation and complete the project on time for our patients and the community."
Elevating the patient experience
The Rapid Recovery Lounge is the first of its kind in the area and features specially designed recliners instead of hospital beds.
"The lounge also frees up beds for patients who need more in-depth recovery," Hettrick notes. "We're so pleased to continue improving our patient experience as we continue to offer the best in heart care, and it's thanks in large part to Mazie's continued commitment to advancing technology in cardiovascular medicine and cardiothoracic surgery."
Following her heart
Now a spry 84-year-old who exercises regularly to maintain her own heart health, Mazie is enthusiastic about the lounge and the other projects she's supported over the years. Among the projects she's most proud of supporting, Mazie mentions donating to help create a hybrid suite where interventional cardiologists and heart surgeons work together on leading-edge heart procedures. Another generous donation created the cardiac nurse navigator position, an important role that involves helping heart patients with appointment scheduling and coordination, answering questions and providing ongoing support.
"Bob and I both have the University of Kansas in our blood, and it's always been a priority to give back," she says. "I'm happy to do that for the health system, the medical center and the campus. And I've made sure that when I die, the cardiology program will receive a part of my estate. Until then, I'll keep giving every year for whatever projects I can help with."