United Hospital Fund Celebrates Four New York Leaders and Their Accomplishments in Improving Health Care
Michael A. Stocker, MD, Jennie L. and Richard K. DeScherer, and Paul E. Francis Receive Awards
From left: (front) Paul E. Francis, Richard K. and Jennie L. DeScherer, and Roger Ferguson. (Rear) Jim Tallon, Michael A. Stocker, MD, and J. Barclay Collins II.
The United Hospital Fund paid tribute to Michael A. Stocker, MD, Jennie L. and Richard K. DeScherer, and Paul E. Francis at its annual gala, held this evening at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The awards were presented to acknowledge their major contributions aimed at improving health care in New York.
Drawing a crowd of close to 600, the event marks the opening of the Fund’s 136th fund-raising campaign for its work to shape positive change in health care in New York.
Michael A. Stocker, MD, MPH, former chairman of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and former president and CEO of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, received the Health Care Leadership Award. Over seven years, Dr. Stocker successfully led Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield’s conversion from not-for-profit to publicly traded status, creating a leaner, more efficient and competitive business in the process, and further signaling the embrace of managed care by the insurance industry. Following a brief retirement, Dr. Stocker advised and supported HHC’s management team as they dealt with the perpetual challenges of infrastructure, staffing, and money, along with a new focus on the critical areas of corporate compliance, internal audits, and procurement. During his five years of leadership at HHC, he was often recognized for his role in enhancing the quality and safety of its services and, in the context of national health reform, preparing the public health care system to be seen as “providers of choice” as fewer New Yorkers go uninsured.
The Health Care Leadership Award was established by the United Hospital Fund in 1998 to recognize strong and sustained leadership aimed at improving health care in New York City. Previous recipients of the award include Peter May, Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Kenneth Raske, James and Merryl Tisch, Anthony Watson, Martin D. Payson, John K. Castle, Mathilde Krim, PhD, Sanford I. Weill, and Maurice R. Greenberg.
Jennie L. and Richard K. DeScherer received the Distinguished Community Service Award for their outstanding leadership of the SLE Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute. Mr. DeScherer leads the SLE Lupus Foundation’s board as president, while Mrs. DeScherer, also an active board member, has helped shape each of the foundation’s program initiatives. Both are founding members of the board of the Lupus Research Institute. Over the past 40 years, the DeScherers have worked to ensure that thousands of people with lupus had the lifeline they needed, and to spur research toward a cure. The SLE Lupus Foundation’s programs include support groups, doctor referrals, summer vacation camp for children with lupus and their families, public awareness and advocacy, and model storefront outreach efforts in underserved neighborhoods throughout New York City. The Lupus Research Institute has awarded $42 million in grants to scientists in over 60 academic and medical centers in 21 states, and it estimates that its support has leveraged an additional $132 million from the National Institutes of Health and other sources.
Established by the Fund in 1987, the Distinguished Community Service Award recognizes volunteer leadership that significantly improves health care in New York City. For a ninth year, the Distinguished Community Service Award has been generously supported by TIAA-CREF, the leading provider of retirement services in the medical, academic, research, and cultural fields. Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., president and CEO of TIAA-CREF, presented the United Hospital Fund award to the DeScherers.
Paul E. Francis was recognized with a Special Tribute for his many contributions to New York and to health care; following a successful career in the private sector and critical budget and advisory roles with three New York governors, he is now increasingly focusing on improving health care. Mr. Francis serves on the board of directors of the New York State Health Foundation, whose grantmaking and convening activities play a vital role in advancing health care in New York. He also serves on the board of trustees of Interfaith Medical Center, an important safety net hospital in Brooklyn, as well as the boards of directors of the New York e-Health Collaborative, which is building the statewide network for sharing electronic medical records, and of GNYHA Ventures, the for-profit subsidiary of the Greater New York Hospital Association. In 2014, his work on behalf of the spinal cord injury advocacy community in New York helped to restore $7 million in annual funding for spinal cord injury research. Formerly a member of the United Hospital Fund’s board, and currently a member of its Health Policy Forum, he remains a close friend and supporter of the Fund.
The benefit chairman was J. Barclay Collins II, chairman of the Fund’s board of directors.
"The individuals we are honoring tonight each enrich the long, storied history of health care leadership in New York,” said Jim Tallon, president of the United Hospital Fund. “Their experiences are as varied as our health system is complex, but all these honorees share a compelling vision—they see how health care can work better and meet real needs. And the people of New York are better for their respective contributions.”
The United Hospital Fund is a health services research and philanthropic organization whose primary mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York. For more information, please visit www.uhfnyc.org.