How did you get connected to Children’s?
My son Doug, now 29, was having a little problem in the middle of
the night when he was a toddler, and we took him to Children’s
emergency room. He was dehydrated, and we stayed the night. In the
morning, as we were leaving, my wife Jill and I ran into a friend
that I grew up with, and she asked Jill to become involved with
Children’s. So Jill got actively involved in the Children’s
Hospital League, which is a very successful fundraising arm of the
hospital, quickly became its president, and started the Festival
of Trees. One day, hospital leadership came to her and asked whether
I would be willing to give some advice on real estate. I gave my
advice, and I’ve been here ever since.
What drives you to give that much
time and effort to Children’s?
I periodically take a tour of the hospital, usually with other donors
whom I’m trying to involve with Children’s, and we meet
a couple of the doctors and nurses on the floors. It inspires a
lot of pride to see some of the things that the staff are doing,
and I get a bit emotional each time I walk through here. It reminds
me that I’m doing what I’m doing for Children’s
because I think it makes a difference.
You, your wife, son and daughter just
made the biggest donation in the history of Children’s. Why
did your family select the new research building?
There are so many things at Children’s that need financial
support, but the new research building was one that I was intimately
involved in from its inception to its opening. We made the decision
because we have top researchers, like Judah
Zon, and Mark Keating, who deserve
and need the space to do their work. I remember Sam
Lux saying, “We can’t bring the best in
the world here and keep them here unless we have the space to let
them do the things that they can do.” My family is proud to
support these brilliant scientists in their work.
You’ve also been very committed
to making sure Children’s is invested in community health.
I’ve always been interested in children and concerned with
children in the inner city. My daughter teaches the third grade
at a Catholic school in Roxbury. It’s a hard job sometimes,
but she does it because it makes her feel good every day that she
makes a difference. It makes me feel good to think that she has
learned that some place. I think people within the community don’t
recognize how much Children’s does for kids in the inner city.
All they know is that Boston residents use us as their primary care
provider and come to our emergency rooms. But we do more than that
and I think we should all be very proud about that part of our mission.
In your sixth month as chairman, what
kind of changes do you foresee?
| “I think that we’re the best in the world
at taking care of children and that’s not because we have the
best buildings, it’s because we have the best people.”
We’re committed to a mission that isn’t going to change.
However, to meet that mission some things will have to change. To
improve access, we may have to continue to extend our success outside
of the Longwood Medical Area and into the suburbs. We are making
some plans to be able to extend our efforts, and I think that we
will start to see the results of that in the next few years. There
are a number of things that we have started to do that are in the
infant stage, but that will pay dividends in the future.
As a retail real estate developer,
you are very conscious of how people experience buildings. What
are your thoughts about our facility?
There are other children’s hospitals in the country that have
been able to make their hospitals look more like a kid’s place
or a children’s environment, and I think we haven’t
had the ability to do that in the past because we haven’t
been in the financial position to spend money like that. We now
have a big gap to fill to make sure we make some physical changes
that help not only the patients and the families feel a lot better,
but also the people working here.
What would you like to say to the
employees and medical staff at Children’s?
I think that we’re the best in the world at taking care of
children, and that’s not because we have the best buildings,
it’s because we have the best people. The more involved I
become in the hospital, the more I recognize the talent that we
have. The way everybody here comes together when we hit some difficult
times is really encouraging to me. I was at a recent Open Meeting,
and seeing Jim Mandell in front of a group of people that came from
all over the hospital to be supportive and give good suggestions
made me feel like we were part of a family that was really working.
Nothing is perfect, and I don’t think we are perfect, but
if we think of ourselves as a family, working together trying to
create something so that the children of this world will be better
off after we are not here, then I think we are all doing the right