NEWPORT, R.I. – With four decades of service in health care, during which time she developed two award-winning cancer and stroke programs, Mary K. Spengler of White Plains, N.Y. was recently honored as Salve Regina University’s 2012 Distinguished Alumna.
Spengler, who currently serves as executive director of Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester, N.Y., graduated from Salve Regina with a degree in biology in 1968. She has also worked for 30 years in a variety of administrative positions at White Plains Hospital and, prior to that, at New York Medical College’s flagship hospital, Flower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, which has since closed.
As vice president at White Plains Hospital, Spengler led the development and implementation of all aspects of an accredited multi-service cancer program that was recognized with an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2009, a designation given to only 18 percent of programs nationwide.
Spengler is also directly responsible for coordinating the hospital’s multidisciplinary stroke program that received the Gold Star from the American Heart Association and has been featured in “U.S. News and World Report.”
The former director of nursing at White Plains Hospital, Spengler earned the hospital’s distinction of Employee of the Year and received its Wholeness of Life award in 2000 for embodying its mission.
In addition to her career at the hospital, Spengler chaired the development of The Westchester Orthopedic Institute, which was designated by the Blue Cross as a Center of Distinction for its comprehensive patient care services. She also serves on the board of directors for the Schnurmacher Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care in White Plains.
In 1995, she overcame breast cancer, crediting her recovery to excellent clinical treatment, the support of friends, and her trust in God. This experience fueled her desire to provide access and dignified health care for all. She joined the fight against cancer with the American Cancer Society as a volunteer, participating in the Making Strides breast cancer walk and Reach to Recovery, working one-on-one with recently diagnosed breast cancer patients. The YWCA of White Plains honored Spengler with the Salute to Women award for her breast cancer awareness efforts in the community.
In 1991, she was appointed by White Plains Hospital Center to work with Visiting Nurse Services of Westchester to establish a joint hospice program which became Hospice and Palliative Care of Westchester, where she served as a member of the board of directors for 12 years and now, as its executive director.
In addition to her Salve Regina degree, Spengler has a master’s degree in nursing from New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y.