Patients facing one of the most devastating diagnoses of their lives will have a full-service facility for treatment, procedures, therapies, clinical trials, and hospital stays thanks to a generous gift from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust. This $50 million donation will be seed money for the new state-of-the-art Hazel Ruby McQuain Comprehensive Cancer Hospital at the WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital complex in Morgantown.

D r. Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, chair and director of the WVU Cancer Institute, expressed deep gratitude to the trustees for their extraordinary generosity. She emphasized that the contribution represents more than just a physical location for surgeries and treatments.

“We extend our deepest gratitude for investing in our mission. We can convert that fear [of hearing a cancer diagnosis] and turn it into hope,” Hazard-Jenkins said. “Hope, healing, and compassion will enable us to achieve the best possible outcomes.”

Steve Farmer, chair of the Trust, reflected on how some 40 years ago, a younger Gordon Gee, during his first term as West Virginia University’s president, along with David Fine, then president of WVU Hospitals, approached his father, George Farmer, seeking assistance. The old hospital building urgently needed repairs, and the medical school was at risk of being relocated.

Farmer said his father, then the chair of the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, talked to McQuain, who donated $8.5 million to build J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital, the core of what is now WVU Medicine’s healthcare complex.

two men stand behind art rendering of large building

WVU Health Systems president and CEO Albert Wright and Stephen Farmer, chair of the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, unveil the architectural rendering of the future Hazel Ruby McQuain Comprehensive Cancer Hospital.

The noted attorney and WVU alumnus (Business ’79, Law ’84) said that first, vital donation had turned into millions of patient visits and millions of patient outcomes, bringing billions of dollars of income annually to North Central West Virginia.

“Today the J.W. Ruby Memorial complex is the hub of the health system and has about 55% of the (hospital) beds in West Virginia,” Farmer said. “That one gift 40 years ago and the return on that gift has been incredible, and it was because of Hazel and who Hazel was.”

Hazel Ruby McQuain died in 2002, and Farmer said the trustees, who include his sons Chase and Brooks, knew her. All of them try to honor her wishes, he continued.

Headshot of the Hazel Ruby McQuain

“She would have instructed us to do this and would want to do it and be very happy about it,” he said. The donation will begin the development and construction of the $500 million Cancer Hospital that will bookend WVU Medicine Children’s, which opened in 2022.

“Hazel could not do this without the good people of WVU Health systems, couldn’t do it without Gordon Gee, without Albert (Wright), without Dr. Hannah Hazard-Jenkins, without the fine people who are going to implement this,” Farmer added.

In addition to the gift from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, the state of West Virginia has allocated $50 million to support efforts to attain National Cancer Institute Designation — an effort that will put WVU Medicine on par with leading U.S. cancer research hospitals.

Wright, the president and CEO of WVU Health Systems, said the hospital will be the destination care center for the people of West Virginia. The multistory Hazel Ruby McQuain Comprehensive Cancer Hospital will offer the most advanced cancer surgical procedures, treatments, therapies, and clinical trials on both an inpatient and outpatient basis and will include inpatient surgical suites; procedural rooms; inpatient rooms for those requiring overnight or extended stays; outpatient clinics; dining services (including a cafeteria); an outpatient pharmacy; and a flower and gift shop.

“Today is a big step,” he said.

Dr. Clay Marsh, chancellor and executive dean for health sciences at WVU, said the importance of any delivery system is about the people, noting that new cancer therapies can re-educate and reactivate the immune system. “We can help people live longer and better and experience the things they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” he said.

“This is a historic gift supporting the expansion of our Cancer Institute,” he continued. “No doubt this gift will save lives for generations to come. The Trust continues to build on [Hazel Ruby McQuain’s] legacy and her generous spirit.”

Speaking directly to Farmer and the other trustees, Marsh said, “You’re not just changing WVU Medicine, you’re changing West Virginia.”

Now in his second term as WVU’s president, Gee said he remembered McQuain as the most humble, thoughtful, kind person one could possibly imagine. Gee said the combination of McQuain and George Farmer, who he said always knew exactly what he wanted to do, developed a quiet Trust that has had a lot of impact, giving nearly $200 million to WVU and WVU Medicine, according to WVU Foundation President Cindi Roth.

We have built a world-class health system, and no individual will ever have to leave West Virginia to get great healthcare.

— Gordon Gee

Roth said McQuain was once a member of the WVU Foundation’s board of directors and spent her life enriching Morgantown. “She made many gifts to WVU during her lifetime, but her gift to support this hospital was particularly meaningful because it honored the memory of her late husband of 46 years, John Wesley Ruby. She cared deeply, contributing more than just money.”

McQuain escorted the first patient transferred from the old hospital to the new one and often attended events, interacting with doctors, nurses, and staff. Since her passing, the Trust continues to build upon her legacy by honoring her generous spirit and her compassionate heart, Roth said.

“We have built a world-class health system, and no individual will ever have to leave West Virginia to get great healthcare,” Gee said. “This was her (McQuain’s) vision, and we are fulfilling it every day. We are so grateful.”

The new Cancer Hospital will be built on the site of the WVU Eye Institute, which will be relocated. Gifts to the future Hazel Ruby McQuain Comprehensive Cancer Center can be made through the WVU Foundation.