For more than three decades, Pat and Alex Gorsky have been dedicated supporters of Doylestown Health. A former nurse, Pat is a member of the Village Improvement Association (VIA) and the Doylestown Health Foundation Board of Trustees. Alex Gorsky is the Executive Chairman of Johnson & Johnson and serves on corporate boards including Apple, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Board of Advisors, to name a few.
As Honorary Chairs of ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health, Pat and Alex Gorsky have helped elevate philanthropy and made transformational gifts to support cardiovascular health services and the new Children’s Village, among other priorities.
Doylestown Health Foundation recently spoke with Pat and Alex about the future of healthcare and the importance of philanthropy.
Alex: Pat and I met in California when I was in the Army and Pat was a cardiac nurse. After I left the Army, I started my career at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in sales. We moved to Doylestown by way of Pittsburgh in the early nineties. Pat began working at Doylestown Hospital and I was working at Janssen, a J&J pharmaceutical subsidiary.
Pat: Yes, that was quite a transition! Alex was an artillery officer in the Army, and when he joined J&J, I was able to help him navigate the hospital environment and work with physicians and nurses.
Pat: I worked in the cardiac catheterization lab, and we were doing balloon angioplasty and stenting with amazing results. To this day, the cardiac unit is incredible. Healthcare is so different than it used to be in terms of technology. Doylestown Hospital has grown to encompass so many capabilities and there’s been huge progress.
What hasn’t changed? It’s a very special environment of caring. You work with people that are part of the community, taking care of patients that are in the community and building relationships with those people. When patients return to the hospital, they are cared for by nurses that are neighbors and friends.
Alex: During those intervening years, there has been significant consolidation in healthcare. The fundamental business model of many local community hospital systems was stressed significantly. A distinguishing feature of Doylestown Health is that it has maintained direct ties with the greater Doylestown community yet partnered in unique ways with some of the very best academic institutions and other health systems. It has a neighborhood feel when you walk in the door, and you have a gateway to some of the very best care available in the world whether it’s here or affiliated with a larger system.
Pat: Like so many people in our community, Alex and I tested positive for COVID-19 last year. Access to an excellent healthcare system can be a critical factor in good outcomes and we were fortunate that Doylestown Health offers the very best therapeutics locally. It has a wonderful heart program and a great stroke program, and those types of issues are so important to deal with at a very high level of care immediately. The confidence that we can get that care at Doylestown Hospital is priceless and gives us peace of mind.
Alex: An inherent benefit of a community hospital is that decision making is local. Whether it’s the CEO, the nursing staff, the physician, or the care team, everybody in the hospital is aligned with that local mission. That gives a certain sense of common purpose—and I believe a sense of urgency—about what people do every day. Everyone shares responsibility and accountability for patients and outcomes. There’s also a tendency to give people more autonomy and I think that increases a sense of ownership and responsibility.
Pat: Yes, we have been exposed to different levels of healthcare all over the world and we’ve also been patients at Doylestown Hospital. Knowing that we’re getting equal to, if not better care, than the best in the world at the local level in Doylestown is very gratifying and reassuring.
Alex: It became clear during COVID that if we don’t have strong, healthy, resilient healthcare systems then society is at risk. We all need to ask important questions in our community such as: What’s the economic outlook? What’s the school system like? Is the local government acting responsibly? Yet I think far and away the most important is: What’s the local health system like? We all encounter challenges in our lives, but there’s probably no greater time of anxiety, fear, and apprehension than when we encounter a health challenge. It tends to be very confusing and complex; not only the science but the systems themselves. To know that you have a place you can trust that feels as though it’s a part of your community, part of your family, and close to you makes a big difference for the community.
Pat: As a full-time working mother, it’s so important to know that your child is well cared for. Nick started preschool there when he was four years old and attended kindergarten. I also appreciated the options for summer camp and after-school care. What impresses me about Children’s Village is that it is still a nurturing, loving environment that endured through the facility getting destroyed by a tornado! The opportunity to rebuild is exciting. It’s going to elevate the childcare available in the community, in a beautiful facility at home on the hospital campus. I’m glad so many families will benefit from it.
Pat: Doylestown Hospital has such an interesting history in the way it began with a focus on the health and welfare of the community. The VIA is a group of determined women who have totally committed to the community and taken on governance and support of the hospital as a full-time job—organizing, running, following up on all the committees, and fundraising. It’s just a very impressive machine. I’m very proud of being part of it and continuing this tradition to support the next one hundred years.
Alex: Absolutely, and I think particularly they will be in a post- COVID-19 environment where we just witnessed extraordinary collaboration during those two or three years in healthcare systems.
We saw that with the development of vaccines at Johnson & Johnson, and we saw it between hospitals and the government because of the tremendous demand that was placed on healthcare systems. The companies and hospital systems that traditionally have been competitors came together and worked in extremely unique ways. Whether it was in balancing patient load during peak periods of the virus, and even between companies in developing vaccines or therapeutics. I think that idea of collaboration and partnership, while maintaining the kind of discipline and energy that comes from healthy competition, is a very important dynamic.
Alex: I always think it’s important, especially for institutions that have quite literally centuries of history, to make sure that you build on that “iconic history” without letting it become iconoclastic and prohibit you from staying current and relevant and taking on new challenges and opportunities. It’s always a balancing act to reflect and say, “we’ve done this, and we’ve been here,” but we all know that if we’re not constantly evolving, if we’re not challenging ourselves, if we’re not thinking about that next 100 years, that we run the risk of no longer having impact and being relevant. Johnson & Johnson and Doylestown Health are both forward-looking enterprises.
Alex: From the standpoint of an organization like Johnson & Johnson, we know that healthcare is 20% of the United States economy and impacts one out of every eight or ten jobs. It can get complicated very quickly. There are many challenges associated with that. But what makes me excited are the possibilities in innovation and access.
Having been in this industry for more than 35 years, when I look at what’s happening now with the biology, the chemistry, the digitization of surgery, and new approaches and therapeutics, we’re really on the cusp of the next generation with breakthroughs that we haven’t seen in the last 100 years. Whether it’s what we recently saw with vaccine development or discoveries like CRISPR and protein cellbased therapies, we may see cures on the horizon for certain diseases that we couldn’t have imagined even 15 years ago. So that kind of innovation, I believe, is not only important for the healthcare system but very exciting for humanity.
We must continue to do a better job of ensuring access to care. When you have the very best innovation in science and technology, but people can’t get access to it, we’re not doing our job. How do we ensure, regardless of your economic background and other situations, that we’re providing the right kind of education, the right kind of outreach, the right kind of connectivity and engagement with our local communities? Ensuring broad, equitable access for people where they live is critically important.
Pat: I think that our resources go a lot further at the local level and have more of an impact; whether it’s healthcare, education, or th earts. And our philosophy is to get involved where it is meaningful to us and where we can make an impact.
Alex: I would also say that there’s an incredible sense of fulfillment and reward when you give back to the local healthcare institution. You know that you’re making a difference locally on something that’s so fundamental and basic. There are few areas in life where you can make that kind of difference.
Pat: During COVID, I think people who haven’t needed to use the hospital before that time realized even more what wonderful healthcare we have available. It was surprising and reassuring that the level of investments and donations really increased. Now, people are more intuitively aware of what the hospital has to offer and what philanthropy can do.
Alex: I would say, “Don’t take it for granted.” The last two years reinforced how important our healthcare systems are and revealed the tremendous strain they’ve been under—the workers, the systems, everybody who really had to manage their way through the pandemic. As we all drive by the hospital building that represents 100 years of care, it’s easy to think that it will be there for another 100 years.
Don’t underestimate the impact that you can have. We can all contribute in some way what we can—be it monetary, volunteering, or making connections. If you take a minute, a moment, to give back—what a difference ultimately that will make for the future of our community, hospital, and healthcare system.
As the philanthropic arm of Doylestown Health, the Doylestown Health Foundation raises funds to safeguard the future of excellence in patient care and improves the quality of life for all members of our Central Bucks County community and beyond.
To learn more about the One Vision Campaign and to make a gift to support expanding programs, please visit:
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A Gift that Pays Dividends
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