With the Special Tribute, UHF honors recognizes the achievements of organizations or individuals who have had a significant impact on health care in New York City—and who have earned the respect and admiration of UHF and the broader health care community. In 2019, we saluted J. Barclay Collins II, Chairman Emeritus of UHF’s board, for his 35-year commitment to UHF.

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Many of United Hospital Fund’s achievements over the past three-and-a-half decades bear J. Barclay Collins’ fingerprints.

A corporate lawyer and former executive vice president and general counsel at the Hess Corporation, Barclay Collins has lent his financial acumen, legal prowess, and personal commitment to UHF’s board, helping to steer and strengthen an organization whose mission, he says, captured his heart and imagination. “When your health fails you, nothing else matters,” he notes. “And so, one of the most important issues that I have committed to is keeping people healthy and helping them return to health.”

 

Serving on the UHF board since 1984, Barclay became chairman in 2006. His equanimity and ability to engage the board, connect supporters, and elevate the organization’s visibility have enhanced UHF’s influence among policymakers and others and helped it remain at the forefront of efforts to address critical challenges facing New York’s health care delivery system. Over these years, UHF has overseen initiatives to strengthen primary care, advance children’s health, improve end-of-life care, expand insurance coverage, better connect the health care sector with the community, and improve quality of care and patient safety.

New York’s voluntary hospital and health care system is distinguished by the professional-volunteer partnerships at its core. Barclay stands apart as one of UHF’s notable volunteer leaders and most effective partners. Current president Tony Shih, MD, and former presidents Jim Tallon and Bruce Vladeck praise him as a leader with a willing ear and thoughtful presence, open to new ideas, able to see opportunities, and thoroughly supportive as challenges inevitably appeared.

Drawn to community service in multiple nonprofit sectors in addition to health care, Barclay’s voluntary commitments can be traced back to his years as an Eagle Scout in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His passion for making a difference and lending a hand gained momentum throughout a high-powered career spanning a top law firm, an investing company, and the Hess Corporation, where he honed skills invaluable to the building and sustaining of nonprofit organizations. He has served on a wide range of nonprofit boards, including that of The Brooklyn Hospital Center, where he has been a trustee since 1981. He also currently chairs the New York Botanical Garden and the Mystic Seaport Museum boards and is actively engaged in other nonprofits.

Barclay’s decades of experience as a trustee of The Brooklyn Hospital Center have provided unique perspectives, blending on-the-ground knowledge with UHF’s health system focus. He sees firsthand the challenges of a community hospital in a rapidly evolving urban setting and understands the imperative of improving quality, safety, and the patient’s and family’s experience of health care.

Inspired by this experience, Barclay has specifically championed Brooklyn Hospital’s focus on quality improvement, as well as UHF’s Quality Institute. He has a special affinity for UHF’s Clinical Quality Fellowship Program, which was created in 2009. Participants receive 15 months of intensive training from regional leaders in health care quality, learning about proven tools and techniques to improve the quality, efficiency, and safety of patient care within their institutions. Co-led with the Greater New York Hospital Association, the program has trained more than 200 physicians and nurses in over 50 hospitals. One of them went on to help The Brooklyn Hospital Center make big strides in quality and safety.

Barclay’s vision and steady hand have also been critical during times of tumult for New York, including after the attacks of September 11, 2001. He worked with the UHF board to rally support for UHF’s strategic response, which resulted in more than 340,000 New Yorkers being enrolled in Disaster Relief Medicaid. “My involvement was to strongly support the staff, who came to us with this idea,” Barclay says. “We were pleased to authorize a sizable draw from UHF’s endowment to fund the plan.”

Over the years, Barclay has made numerous other vital contributions, none more important than his heavy involvement in recruiting both Jim Tallon and Tony Shih to lead UHF into the future.

It is impossible to fully capture Barclay Collins’s influence on UHF over the last 35 years. But one thing is certain: United Hospital Fund is better for it, and countless New Yorkers have benefited from his leadership and commitment. United Hospital Fund is honored to recognize this outstanding champion of voluntarism and health care, our chairman emeritus, and our very good friend.