Norwalk Hospital received the largest gift in its history Friday afternoon after a Darien family donated $10 million toward construction of the hospital's new ambulatory pavilion.

The donation was made by the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Family Foundation, named for the late Ann and Harold McGraw Jr.

Mary Franco, president of the Norwalk Hospital Foundation, made the announcement this afternoon at a reception in the main lobby of the hospital.

"This is an incredibly generous gift, the largest gift in the history of Norwalk Hospital, and one of the largest gifts ever given to a hospital in the state of Connecticut," she said. "The McGraws have been close friends of Norwalk Hospital and they possess a keen understanding of the needs of health care. The late and Ann and Harold McGraw Jr. had a passion for ensuring that all members of our community have access to medical care, especially those who can't afford it and they were especially fond of our emergency department."

Ann and Harold's children, Sue, Terry and Bob McGraw made the donation, on behalf of the foundation, to honor their parents' long-standing support of Norwalk Hospital. Terry McGraw, spoke briefly and said the credit goes to everyone in the community who works hard to make the hospital a better place, not just his family.

"This is really what family is all about," he said to the more than 100 in attendance. "It's everybody that has something to do with this fabulous hospital and cares so dearly about the community. So the credit goes to everybody who has come together to believe in what this place could be and we all have a little piece of it."

As a result of their tradition of support, the new pavilion will be named The Anne P. and Harold W. McGraw Jr. Center for outpatient care. It will also help in the development of a new emergency department, something Harold McGraw was particularly passionate about.

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"Over the years the McGraw family has supported the emergency department and the care of our patients in many ways. They have symbolized the ideals that every hospital would love to have their benefactors embrace," Dr. Michael Carius, chairman, emergency medicine, said. "They share our vision that excellent emergency medical care is important to everyone, regardless of one's ability to pay. They are supportive of the emergency physicians and staff and they lead by their own philanthropic example. We are indeed fortunate to have the McGraw family's generous support, and for that we are most grateful."

According to Norwalk Hospital, the new pavilion will have a new emergency department, a center for digestive diseases, a new cancer center and updated facilities for ambulatory surgery. The construction will entail 90,000 new square feet and renovation to 40,000 square feet of the existing campus. The hospital has already completed a new parking garage, with 200 additional spaces, earlier this month, which was a prerequisite for the new building. The ground-breaking for the new addition is expected to take place early this fall with a completion date in early 2015.

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