New Endowment Fund Helps Children Transition Home Safely

Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital is thrilled to announce that it has received a gift of over half a million dollars to grow its endowment and establish a new restricted endowment fund to facilitate patients’ transition home.

Former Ranken Jordan Board Member, Mary Ellen Brucker, who died in April 2021, gave the transformational gift through her estate. The gift will greatly enhance Ranken Jordan’s endowment which provides long-term support for the 60-bed pediatric bridge hospital, as well as establish the Mary Ellen Brucker Transitional Fund. The latter will provide funding for families to do home modifications to better accommodate their children as they return home from care and treatment at Ranken Jordan.

Ranken Jordan is a one-of-a-kind pediatric bridge hospital that serves as a critical transition stop between acute care hospitals and home. Ranken Jordan patients stay an average of 50 days, receiving a broad spectrum of medical, therapy and support services. They practice a model called Care Beyond the Bedsidewhich promotes getting children up and out of their beds, and engaged in play-based therapy.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nick Holekamp, explains that ‘play promotes healing, like no other treatment we can provide these children. I have seen children with incredibly complex diagnoses make enormous progress when they are motivated to play and be active. This kind of care just makes sense, we would love to see more hospitals adopt a similar philosophy. This gift will help us continue to provide playful healing to many more children in the future.’

Out of the over half million-dollar Brucker estate gift, $127,000 will go to the establishment of the new Mary Ellen Brucker Transitional Fund. The new fund will provide critical support when patients are medically ready to go home, but face barriers to getting there.

Ranken Jordan patients are considered medically complex, the challenges for Ranken Jordan families are great, and they continue when patients go home. Oftentimes patients need new accessibility measures put in place before they can safely return home, in addition to continued medical and therapy treatment once they get there.

The Mary Ellen Brucker Transitional Fund will help address these needs such as installing ramps, purchasing specialized wheelchairs, specialty car seats, as well as home modifications to address a multitude of accessibility issues from stairs to bathrooms. While the needs of families are extensive, and well beyond what Ranken Jordan can provide, the Mary Ellen Brucker Transitional Fund will help with this ongoing challenge and more children will get home sooner thanks to the new fund.

“We’re forever grateful for Mary Ellen’s transformational gift that furthers our mission of bridging the transition from hospital to home safely,” says Dr. Holekamp. “To have funds dedicated to patients’ transition needs is so impactful. The Mary Ellen Brucker Transitional Fund will help us reduce barriers so children can continue their healing journey at home — it will help them cross the finish line.”

Mary Ellen Brucker was a successful public relations professional, world traveler and accomplished photographer. While Mary Ellen was involved in many organizations, she developed a special connection to Ranken Jordan after visiting and seeing the challenges that the children faced firsthand. She served on the Ranken Jordan board from 1988-2005 including a transformational time for the hospital when it transitioned from being a convalescent home to a licensed pediatric hospital. Mary Ellen’s communications expertise was pivotal during that time.

Her children characterize her as a warm, caring, and intelligent woman with a great spirit for life. “She was ahead of her time in many ways and was very independent. She was well accomplished in her own right and was sought after on boards for her PR abilities,” shared her son, Edward Brucker.

Mary Ellen Brucker (Mellon) was born in Seattle and lived the first 10 years of her life in the Philippines from 1928-1938. She graduated from Stanford in 1947 where she was an editor on the Stanford Daily. Her writing career took her to multiple states and eventually she married Gene Brucker and moved to St. Louis, Missouri. She continued to trailblaze in public relations, was active in many local organizations as well as being a nationally recognized member of the Photographic Society of America.

Dr. Holekamp says Mary Ellen’s spirit was similar to another generous, independent woman — Mary Ranken Jordan, the hospital founder. “Mary Ellen exemplified the character and passion of Mary Ranken Jordan who always considered children first. Mary Ellen’s gift creates another way we’re able to put children’s needs first.”

Her children, Katherine Brucker of Ottawa and Edward Brucker of St. Louis carry on her traits of independence, love of travel, passion for great communication and her philanthropic spirit. They expressed pride in their mother’s legacy gift, sharing: “Our mom had a practical side but also a very loving and warm-hearted side, her endowment gift is not for a one-time project — it will be something that lasts forever.”

Mary Ellen Brucker’s tremendous estate gift, which includes the new Mary Ellen Brucker Transitional Fund, will help Ranken Jordan continue providing children with the best place to heal through play and also help facilitate their transition home.

There are many ways to support the children at Ranken Jordan, including donations to the endowment, annual gifts, tribute and memorial gifts, attending or sponsoring events, hosting fundraisers, and more. For more information, visit or call 314-872-6414.