Kennedy, Tireless Champion for Patients

By Dennis D. Keefe
CEO, Cambridge Health Alliance

What strikes me most about all the tributes to our friend, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, is the vast number of lives he directly touched during his storied career. We at Cambridge Health Alliance are certainly no exception as our very existence is without a doubt connected to Ted’s tireless championing on behalf of the patients we serve and for universal health care in general. He was an unflagging supporter of public hospitals and CHA, in particular, and would call me frequently to reinforce this.

All of us at CHA recall with great fondness the day he came to our Cambridge Campus in late 2006 to pick up a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems. This was no quick drive-by photo-op for the Senator. More than 150 staff and board members from CHA, Boston Medical Center, and UMass Memorial Health Care attended the ceremony and I think he lingered and spent time with each one. The day didn’t end there, though. He went to our Broadway Health Center where he read to children at Somerville Pediatrics in support of Reach Out and Read, the national organization that helps fund our own Project Read. It was an unforgettable day.

Shortly before he was diagnosed with brain cancer, the same condition that took the life of my elder brother just two years ago, Ted took the time to provide a personal video tribute in honor of my having received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Health Care for All. In graciously saluting my leadership and again echoing his love and support for CHA, he reminded us that there were no acquaintances too small, or issues too little, to earn his lasting attention and dedication. We were connected in many ways, both personally and professionally, and his loss is very profound and sad. We will all feel the void created by his passing.

This program aired on August 28, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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