The Bronx recently mourned Dr. James Earnest Cimino, a Bronx resident who dedicated his life to Calvary Hospital and those in need and helped people around the world through his medical brilliance.
Cimino, Giacomo before he became James, was born in the Bronx on July 7, 1928 to Earnest and Rose Cimino. Friends and family knew the doctor as “Jack.”
Always committed to education, Cimino graduated from Stuyvesant High School, spent two years at Syracuse University and transferred to New York University.
Cimino met his wife, Dorothy Naperkoski, while at NYU Bellevue School of Medicine, and the couple soon took off to Buffalo. It was there that Jack completed an internship and residency at Memorial Hospital and a fellowship at the University of Buffalo.
Determined to protect his country, Cimino moved his family to Florida and enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served two years as Chief of Medical Services and earned the rank of captain.
Cimino then moved his family back to New York. They settled in Valhalla and he opened a medical practice. Cimino also helped out at the Bronx VA Hospital and Calvary Hospital.
“He worked tirelessly,” Dr. Jim Cimino, Cimino’s eldest son, said. ”His main accomplishment was the arteriovenous fistula for artificial kidneys, which he developed while at the Bronx VA. Because of his invention people who would have died were able to survive. He also revolutionized the care of terminally ill patients and went on to influence the American hospice movement. Millions of families have been helped by his work.”
After some time, Cimino chose to close his practice and dedicate more time to Calvary Hospital as chief of medicine.
Under Cimino, Calvary was transformed into a renowned institution. Eager to pass on his knowledge to a younger generation, he founded the Palliative Care Institution in 1994 for medical students and cancer care technicians.
“He was a beloved figure here,” Calvary Hospital president Frank Calamari said. “He brought the medical staff together. He definitely will be missed.”
Cimino was honored by innumerable organizations, such as the Veterans Administration, the National Kidney Disease Foundation, the American College of Physicians, the American Dietetic Association, New York Medical College, the American Association of Kidney Patients, the Gold Humanism Honor Society, Alpha Omega Alpha, and the American Caner Society.
In addition to his numerous professional accomplishments, Cimino was a true family man. He organized family outings and started new traditions. Above all, Cimino taught his six children and 12 grandchildren invaluable life lessons.
“When we were all kids he put my mother and all six kids in our station wagon and we drove to Seattle, to L.A. and back again,” Jim Cimino said. “He invented a game that we would play every Christmas and he loved to take us down to the Bronx and Manhattan to show us various sites, places to eat and interesting museums. He was the center of our family.”
Cimino passed away on February 11, 2010. A memorial mass was held at Holy Name of Jesus Church on Thursday, February 18. The family asked that those who wish to honor his memory make a donation to the James and Dorothy Cimino Endowment Fund at Calvary Hospital.