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Jean & Audrey Working It At The Southampton Hospital Luncheon: New Gruss Stroke Center To Break Ground This Summer

Lee Fryd

Nick Korniloff, Jean Shafiroff, Audrey Gruss, and Robert S. Chaloner. (Photo: Owen Hoffmann/PatrickMcMullan.com)

"Is anyone here over 50?" Audrey Gruss asked the room at Le Cirque. Once again, Jean Shafiroff was hosting a kickoff luncheon to the Southampton Hospital Summer Party. Shafiroff will serve as the evening's Chair; Gruss, as Honorary Chair.

We'll let the answer to that question hang in the perfumed air. After 50, a woman's chance for stroke or heart disease increases steadily. And so, Gruss approached the Southampton Hospital with the idea to create a facility for the emergency care that is so vital in the first hours of a stroke or heart attack. Thanks to their five million dollar gift, the hospital expects to break ground on the The Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center this summer.

"One of the biggest problems of stroke is is getting aid fast," explained Chuck Scarborough, who serves as emcee for the hospital gala year after year. "Whatever Audrey focusses on happens. Six years ago she brought me into her new idea, the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. And in six years that has become a true force in the study of depression."

Gruss also introduced Southampton Hospital President & CEO Robert Chaloner to ArtSouthampton creator Nick Kornikof, who asked to get involved. The use of the ArtSouthampton location for the summer gala will enable this year's event to take place in an air-conditioned tent, with décor designed by Antony Todd. A number of ArtSouthampton dealers, who will be exhibiting work prior to the Summer Party, have planned to donate a portion of the proceeds from sold work to aid the Hospital in a variety of healthcare initiatives.

Gruss announced this year's theme: "Forward to the Future." And Shafiroff explained: "Wear color ... long or short."

Scarborough told the room: "In recent years probably nobody has been more critical to the success of the summer parties as the irrepressible, indefatigable Jean Shafiroff. As you know, she has chaired two of them so far, and with able assistance and with great energy and force of will has helped raise 3 1/2 million for the hospital. So, obviously, we like to punish success. She's doing it again."

Said Shafiroff: "It's all in the spirit of creating great health care for those rich and poor that are in the Hamptons. And we have a lot of poverty. I feel so blessed to work as a volunteer for an organization that turns no one down. To me that is so critically important."

The future looks extremely bright for the hospital. Besides The Jenny and John Paulson Emergency Department, and plans for the The Audrey and Martin Gruss Heart and Stroke Center, Chaloner said they have signed a letter of intent that would "bring us into a tighter union with Stony Brook. That would bring financial benefits to the hospital, opportunities to attract new state of the art clinicians and take advantage of their teaching programs. And the real brass ring for us is to get access to the college campus." That would be the site of a new "state of the art hospital that's befitting of everything that the Hamptons are."

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