Erik C. Gifford and Christina D'Agostino

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Heartache is turned into hope

United Way donors Erik C. Gifford and Christina D’Agostino are passionate about helping others appreciate Thompson Health for what it is: a top-notch medical facility that retains a warm, personal touch.
Erik C. Gifford and Christina D’Agostino “Thompson Health is a huge asset to the Canandaigua community, but one I feel often goes unrecognized and underappreciated,” said Erik, an IT systems administrator at G.W. Lisk, whose wife, Christina, is a nurse practitioner in the Department of Vascular Surgery at UR Medicine. “Too often people, including myself, don’t truly appreciate the institution and the services it and its people provide until personally affected in a time of need.”

Erik and Christina’s time of need occurred when their daughter was stillborn last spring, seven weeks before the due date.

“Our greatest fears, everything we thought too horrible to possibly happen, played out before our eyes,” said Erik. “That day was truly the most gut-wrenching and emotional experience of our lives. Christina had to go through full labor to deliver our beautiful daughter who had already left this world. But in all of that, the support we received from every member of the Thompson staff we interacted with was unparalleled, and provided an example of just how great people can be. Every moment we were at the hospital, the staff was there for us. Even after the surreal experience of leaving the hospital, no longer expecting but without our baby, the Thompson team reached out to us to see if there was anything we needed.”

Despite the heartache, Erik and Christina remain optimistic and forever appreciative. Both Lorenzo, 6, and Gianna, 3, were born at Thompson, which Christina likens to “a caring extension of one’s own family.”

“Whether it’s in a tragic situation requiring medical attention or a joyous moment of welcoming a healthy child to the world, every member of the surrounding community deserves to have this level of excellence available so close to home,” she said.

And Erik noted anyone can help ensure a bright future for the health system.

“By each just giving what we can, no matter how insignificant it might seem,” he said, “collectively we can make a huge difference.”