Training Tomorrow’s Caregivers

Loyal community member invests in future patient care.

Bob Cooper

Bob Cooper is fortunate enough in his good health that he has had little experience as a patient at The University of Vermont Medical Center, but he recognizes its extensive value to the community.

“We’re lucky to have it. It’s not just a hospital for patients but a renowned medical center and a medical school. It’s a teaching hospital as well as a research hospital,” said Cooper, a Burlington native who now lives in South Burlington.

Cooper graduated from UVM in 1964 and entered the family business, Burlington Grocery Company, a food distributor delivering to grocery stores. Five years later, he sold that entity and founded Burlington Foodservice Company, focusing on sales to restaurants and institutions such as schools and hospitals. In 2006, after 42 years as founder and ultimately chief executive officer, he sold his company to Reinhardt Foodservice.

In addition to his steady support of the medical center’s annual fund, Cooper gives annually to the UVM Children’s Hospital. He praised Lewis First, MD, the hospital’s chief of pediatrics, for elevating the care and reputation of the children’s hospital. Cooper has two children and two grandchildren.

He also has contributed to specific capital campaigns, such as the funding of the Ambulatory Care Center a decade ago. His most recent gift of $500,000 will name the main entry into the new Miller Building which will add 128 private inpatient rooms on four of the seven floors.

A few years ago, Cooper needed a hip replacement and spent a few nights in the hospital. His room “looked like it was big enough for one bed,” but he shared it with another patient. Doctors had little space to maneuver or consult with colleagues. The family of his roommate, who was very sick, could hardly fit, he said.

Excellent health care requires excellent facilities, Cooper noted. Patient rooms need adequate space for medical staff to provide good care, bring in needed equipment and, perhaps most importantly, train the hospital’s interns and residents, he said.

“We’re teaching the next generation of doctors at UVM.”

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