News & Articles
Ralph & Christina Nappi Emergency Services
Jan 4. 12
Ralph J. Nappi was never famous, nor is his wife, Christina. Yet their names appear for all to see on the St. Joseph’s Ralph & Christina Nappi Emergency Services building.
Ralph was a public service employee for 30 years until his death in 1980. Christina describes herself (with some well-earned pride) as the equally hard-working mother of six—all of them, coincidentally, born at St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center.
Yet those are hardly ever the credentials needed to find your name above a sparkling new state-of-the-art emergency medicine facility primed to serve tens of thousands of Central New Yorkers when it opens in 2012. It was, however, more than enough for the couple’s son and daughter-in-law, Samuel and Carol Nappi, who made the gift to name the building—a gift they hope will recognize the lives and life lessons of Ralph and Christina Nappi. They also say the gift speaks about the care the elder Nappis received from St. Joseph’s physicians and nurses over the years.
“Our parents taught us so much about helping others,” Samuel Nappi says. “We, as a family, are what we are because of what they taught us. They taught us by example the importance of helping others without expecting anything in return. They led by example: If you give back, you also get back. Giving is its own pleasure.
“My father was loved by his family and his community,” Nappi continues. “In the 31 years since his passing, every time I meet someone who knew my dad, they say how much they loved him. He was a very giving person—a real gentleman and a fine example for us to follow.
“This gift is about honoring my parents, but it’s also about honoring the care my parents have received over the years from St. Joseph’s nurses and doctors.”
Nappi recalls playing football with friends as a teenager in 1972 when an out-of-breath friend ran to tell him that his father had been taken to St. Joseph’s. He arrived to find out his father had suffered a stroke and already had been given last rites. Over the next two or three weeks, Nappi remembers the care his father received from neurosurgeon (the late) Dominick C. Adornato Jr., MD, as his father was coaxed back from the brink.
“Anyone,” he says, “who has been through that and comprehends what it’s like watching these nurses and doctors give back endlessly will understand. It’s in their nature.”
Nappi praises other St. Joseph’s practitioners, as well. He recalls the efforts of Abdul-Ghaffar Musa, MD, who treated his mother for an aggressive cancer. Dr. Musa, Nappi says, “did an amazing job of saving her life. Dr. Musa really shines through for me today. He’s brilliant.”
He also credits Joel Rosenberg, MD, as another member of the St. Joseph’s medical staff (and a long-time friend of his) with saving his mother-in-law’s life through coronary valve surgery.
“St. Joseph’s has always been the choice for my family, as well,” Carol Nappi says. “Thanks to Dr. Rosenberg, my mother, Yoshi, is now 82 going on 65. “It was hard to get her out of cardiac rehabilitation she liked it and the staff so much. She has always liked to walk, and now she’s buzzing up and down the driveway.”
Samuel and Carol Nappi hardly have time to slow down either. He is chairman and chief executive officer of a privately owned energy company with 12 power plants in the Northeast that supply electricity—a portion of it renewable like biofuel and hydroelectric—to more than a million households. The company also gathers natural gas in Alaska and operates natural gas pipelines in Western and Central New York.
Nappi also is the founder of an entertainment company that produces plays, musicals and feature films. “I enjoy the business,” Nappi says. “The films and plays I’m involved with have a social consciousness. I’m working on a film now based on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. along with DreamWorks and Warner Brothers.” A play coproduced with Alicia Keys opened in New York in November.
Carol Nappi is just as busy. She spent 11 years at the former Community General Hospital providing psychiatric day treatment. That was before son, Justin, and daughter, Leah, were born. “I stayed home and became a full-time mom,” she says.
Even though she was raising two children, she continued to teach at the family’s church and volunteer for several agencies. Carol is an active board member on several national charities in Central New York, New York City and Los Angeles. She was honored with a local Jefferson Award in 2000 for her community involvement.
But when there are calm moments, moments for reflection on the most important elements of life, their thoughts turn away from work and back to families and the communities in which they grow up—including those in poverty who need, but who can’t afford, health care.
“The people who often need it the most, the impoverished, will use the emergency center for their primary care needs as they have in the past,” Nappi continues. “It’s not always good for the hospital, and yet one thing continues to ring true—St. Joseph’s is building a world-class facility for all comers, including for those who have nowhere else to turn.
“We live in both New York City and Los Angeles, and have seen the facilities at New York’s Cornell Medical and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. We are so happy to see that St. Joseph’s is coming up to such wonderful standards in terms of technology and infrastructure. They have always had great doctors and nurses, and the fact that they are making such a huge capital investment in a community of this size is remarkable.”
So how does Christina Nappi feel about having her and her late husband’s name connected with the new emergency services building?
“You know,” she ponders, "I have seen the goodness in our children from a young age. I'm humbled by this honor; my husband would be proud. We are blessed that our children can give back to such an important cause and community.”