Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 23, 1976 when Archbishop Henry J. O'Brien passed away.
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Pg5-BirthCtrFrom left at dedication are Joseph Levine, grandson of Dr. Romeo A. Vidone; Debra Levine and Linda Vidone, Dr. Vidone's daughters; and Dr. Vidone. (Photo submitted)

NEW HAVEN – Calling it a "gift of life," Dr. Romeo A. Vidone noted that his family’s donation of $1 million for the newly renovated birth center at the Hospital of St. Raphael, donated in memory of his late wife, Lena, "made sense personally and professionally."

The Dr. Romeo A. and Lena B. Vidone Birth Center – a $2.2- million project unveiled with a ribbon-cutting and blessing on Jan. 24 – the same date as the March for Life in Washington – emphasizes a family-centered design for new moms and dads. It features soft lighting, art, earth-toned decor, soothing wallpaper patterns, wood-paneled ceilings, and flooring with a wood-finish look.

Designed to look and feel like a spa, the center also features a renovated concierge-appointed lobby and waiting room, complete with a waterfall, to greet visitors; a family area in the postpartum unit; a state-of-the-art nurses’ station; and patient rooms with draperies, sleeper sofas and bathrooms with pedestal sinks and frameless glass shower doors.

"We are thrilled to have the support of Dr. Vidone and his family as we complete this important project," said Christopher O’Connor, president and CEO of St. Raphael. "The Vidone Birth Center will be a fitting tribute to a family that has exemplified the mission of St. Raphael’s for many years."

That’s the "professional" part for Dr. Vidone, who is a longtime pathologist at St. Raphael Hospital.

The "personal" part goes back to the 1960s, when Lena Vidone, who died last August after a brief illness and whose portrait now hangs in the birth center, was struggling with infertility issues after nine years of marriage.

Dr. Vidone said that after graduating from Yale School of Medicine and completing two years in the Navy, he took a job at Yale as an assistant professor of pathology and met Dr. C. Lee Buxton, chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the Yale School of Medicine and chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale New Haven Hospital.

"His field was infertility and he took my wife on as a patient," said Dr. Vidone.

Dr. Buxton found that Lena needed surgery to reverse her infertility, which was caused by polycystic ovarian disease – a problem now treated with hormones. The procedure was a success.

The couple went on to have three children who today are a nurse, a dentist and a lawyer.

"My wife always felt very much indebted to him for this," said Dr. Vidone.

In fact, shortly before her mother died, said Debra Vidone Levine – born in 1965 and the eldest of the children – she gave Debra the appointment card that Dr. Buxton had given her in 1964.

"She kept it and gave it to me," said Mrs. Levine, who works as a nurse in the Family Health Center at St. Raphael and has two boys.

"Throughout my whole life, my mother always told me about her infertility problem," she said. "It was so important to her that Dr. Buxton was able to help her have a family."

For both of her parents, she said, "Their heart and soul is the Hospital of St. Raphael. My mother was always donating her time here. Her social life, friends, everything was focused around the hospital. So this birth center in her memory is very much in line with how she lived."

The Vidones also have a daughter, Linda, the dentist, in Massachusetts; and a son, Marc, the lawyer, in New Jersey.

After working at Yale, Dr. Vidone became chairman of pathology at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington.

In 1977, he joined St. Raphael’s as chairman of the pathology department. He began working with Dr. Brian Rigney, who is acting chief of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Raphael, to implement gynecological cancer conferences at the hospital. They now routinely discuss their gynecological cancer cases twice a month.

Dr. Vidone left the post of chairman in 2003 but still works part-time at St. Raphael’s as an attending physician.

"I think it’s important for the city to have another fine birthing center like this," said Dr. Vidone, "and St. Raphael’s is at the forefront of medical care."

Last year, 1,180 babies were born at St. Raphael’s. The hospital also offers advanced services for premature and at-risk babies, including the newborn intensive care unit and special testing, and care for high-risk patients in the maternal fetal medical unit.

The renovation included six labor and delivery rooms, 11 postpartum rooms and the lobby.

"It’s a great, beautifully done renovation of the unit that makes it a warm and intimate setting while providing the latest in medical care," said Dr. Vidone.

"The department and community will benefit tremendously," he said, "and my wife would be overjoyed."



alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.