• By Dana Sparks

Sharing Mayo Clinic: Flashback 50 years and a legacy of caring support lives on

September 23, 2018

At Saint Marys, Bernard van der Steen commissioned a sculpture that depicts St. Francis of Assisi as a vigorous young man, surrounded by the birds he loved.

For 50 years, the Bernard H. van der Steen Trust has helped ease the financial burden of cancer patients in need at Mayo Clinic.

In 1968, Bernard van der Steen, a hotel and food industry entrepreneur from California, was a patient at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus. He heard a patient crying nearby and asked his nurse why the patient was upset.

When he learned the patient had cancer and could not afford her hospital bill, van der Steen — who was facing a terminal condition himself — decided to help. He established a fund that supports patients with cancer who have financial needs.

Mr. and Mrs. van der Steen

Mr. and Mrs. van der Steen

Since then, the Bernard H. van der Steen Trust has provided more than $17 million to patients with financial needs who receive treatment for cancer at Mayo Clinic's Arizona and Rochester campuses. The fund also supports cancer research. Bernard van der Steen and his wife, Iris van der Steen, are recognized as Philanthropic Partners, the highest benefactor designation at Mayo Clinic.

"My uncle always said Mayo takes care of the person first, then the medical condition," says Ben van der Steen. "He established this fund to honor the dignity of each patient and help relieve financial distress on a one-to-one basis." Please read the rest of the article.
This article originally appeared on the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.