The Measure of a Man
Doylestown Hospital President and CEO Richard A. Reif left behind a legacy of innovation and vision that transcends the hospital and leaves a lasting imprint on the entire Central Bucks County community.
There are tenures, and then there are legacies
When it comes to Richard A. Reif, Doylestown Hospital's long-term President and CEO, it's the latter that is true. At the end of 2012, Reif retired after 23 years in the hospital's corner office. He leaves behind not just a hospital staunchly positioned for the future of healthcare, but a community in which health and wellness are central to its identity. The depth and breadth of his leadership transcends physical structures; it has permeated the culture of Bucks County, and helped to spin off a variety of health-related organizations that enrich communities far and wide.
Health Quality Partners: Improving healthcare in a vulnerable elderly population
The responsibility of a hospital is to be an anchor that supports all healthcare systems in the community. That's the big-picture philosophy Rich Reif has brought to Health Quality Partners (HQP), says Kenneth Coburn, MD, the CEO, Medical Director, and a co-founder of HQP, a not-for-profit quality-improvement organization that designs, tests, and disseminates new ways to improve healthcare quality and health outcomes for the particularly vulnerable population of elderly adults. "He possesses a selfless, high-level commitment for a better healthcare system, and he thinks about the whole system of healthcare delivery," Dr. Coburn says of Reif. "Very few people are willing to try to understand all facets of the healthcare system in the community and invite others in to create better ways to deliver healthcare, but Rich does that. His holistic, global view of healthcare, his support, and the support of Doylestown Hospital have helped us to design effective models to improve care for chronically ill, elderly adults at high risk, and help them avoid some of the challenges associated with being part of this vulnerable population."
Reif's involvement with HQP actually stems from an earlier collaboration with Dr. Coburn. Their first meeting was in the late nineties, through the former Penn Care program-an 11-hospital consortium that had been formed to reduce healthcare expenses and improve quality of care in the region. "Doylestown Hospital was the only successful hospital system from a financial perspective," reports Dr. Coburn. "When Penn Care came to an end, I started Health Quality Partners in 2000 as an independent 501(c)3 charity. Soon after, I reached out to Rich in order to forge a relationship with Doylestown Hospital. I knew him to be a champion of the frontlines, of the grassroots, of speaking up to improve patient care and empowering everyone to make those kinds of contributions."
It was a standout partnership from the start, says Dr. Coburn, and he credits the relationship with Doylestown Hospital for helping HQP hone its model of collaborative relationships with other hospitals, including St. Mary's and University of Pennsylvania.
"Doylestown Hospital has served as a template with other organizations as the years have gone on," says Dr. Coburn. "Putting a group like HQP on solid footing will carry long-lasting benefits for the local community. We've gained the support of Medicare, and hopefully this will have a very big impact not only in the region, but at the state and national levels as our model gets adopted elsewhere."
CB Cares Education Foundation: Empowering youth to develop lifelong healthy habits
Before there was CB Cares Education Foundation (formerly CB Cares)-the organization that for 17 years has helped to connect youth to parents, parents to youth, and families to community by way of programs that have been proven to have a direct impact on our youth (especially in regard to alcohol, tobacco, and drug-prevention initiatives)-there were two men whose professional paths crossed in a most unlikely way.
In 1989, Rich Reif was the newly hired CEO of Doylestown Hospital, and Bob Laws, PhD, was the superintendent of schools for the Central Bucks school district. "I was trying to manage healthcare for nearly 3,000 employees in the district," Laws says, "and I began working with Rich and with the hospital to see how we could reduce our healthcare costs. He and I soon realized that we were operating the two largest businesses in Doylestown, and that led us to talking about other ways we could partner."
Laws says that at the time, he was particularly concerned about the use of alcohol by kids in high school. He recognized in Reif "a proponent of a healthy community-someone who saw value in serving not just the sick and infirm, but in promoting health and wellness in the community." Together, Laws and Reif pursued a state grant to sponsor a wellness program. That grant helped lay the groundwork for a Teen Task Force, which shortly thereafter became the Central Bucks Healthier Community Team, then CB Cares, and now the CB Cares Education Foundation. Though the name of the group has changed over the years and programs have evolved to keep in step with the times, what has remained constant is Reif's support and the support of Doylestown Hospital.
"Rich Reif took the concept of health and wellness outside the walls of Doylestown Hospital," says Barbara N. Lyons, President of the CB Cares Education Foundation Board of Directors. "He saw early on in his tenure the contribution the hospital could make to help youth develop lifelong healthy habits in character, mind, and body. He saw the importance of community in this effort, and worked to develop a coalition of organizations that began as the Teen Task Force, and evolved into the CB Cares Educational Foundation."
"Rich is a man with conviction and integrity," adds Laws. "He has always put Doylestown Hospital first, and the Central Bucks community first. When I think back on these two great forces-the hospital and the school system-coming together for the good of the community, that's really special. But that's Rich. He's always been a major proponent of education at any level."
The Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic: Making healthcare accessible to all
The mission of the Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic-to provide free medical and dental care for uninsured low-income adults and children in the central Bucks County community, as well as information about other community resources-is large, but its beginnings were actually quite small. "In 1994," recalls Daniel Nesi, MD, "a young mother called my office. She said she had been waiting two days for her sick infant to be seen at the outpatient clinic at another hospital, and she said she needed help for her baby but had no funds. My secretary at the time told her not to worry, and told her to come in to the office; we would help her baby."
Dr. Nesi treated the baby and the baby got well, but he never saw the mother or her child again. The story could have ended there. Instead, Dr. Nesi, then the President of the Medical Staff at Doylestown Hospital, told Rich Reif about this baby. "He told me he wanted to do something about these kinds of situations," Dr. Nesi recalls, "and I told him we could if we had a free clinic. Rich was all for it-he was enthusiastic about it, as he is about all things related to Doylestown Hospital and healthcare." Together they worked out the logistics, finding both a space at the hospital to house the clinic and the staff to support it, making the pitch that they could provide quality healthcare to people who had no access to healthcare.
"Rich was very instrumental in guiding our structure of the free clinic and getting doctors to cooperate," says Dr. Nesi, adding that Reif was also successful in securing $10,000 in start-up money from Doylestown resident Ann Silverman (the Free Clinic of Doylestown at Doylestown Hospital, as it was originally known, was renamed the Ann Silverman Community Health Clinic upon Ann's passing in 2008). "Rich has always provided support and done all he could to make us successful. We've been so successful because we've had the right infrastructure and a strong board."
Jack McCaughan has been part of that board for 15 years, having been recruited by Reif in the clinic's early days. "He has brought tremendous leadership to meet the needs of the Central Bucks area. He was very actively involved in starting the clinic and very involved in making sure the clinic received the support it needed from the hospital," McCaughan says of Reif. "He has always had a strong personal commitment to meeting the needs of the uninsured and underinsured in our community. He made sure there were smooth relationships between the hospital and the clinic, and has helped the clinic grow to become what it is today."
In fact, today's clinic is among the longest-operating free clinics in Pennsylvania, with an impressive range of services and resources. To date, the clinic has served more than 40,000 patients. That number will continue to grow, and every patient who is treated is somewhat of a testament to Reif's dedication and vision. "Everyone always wants to give me credit for the clinic," says Dr. Nesi, "but the credit should go to Rich. Like so many things, it never could have happened without him."