On May 22, as the last patient left the University Medical Center at Princeton on Witherspoon Street, the nurses and staff spontaneously lined both sides of the hallway between the patient’s room and the ambulance, then applauded as she passed by. Twelve minutes later, this patient arrived at the new hospital, and the team staffing the Operations Center at the new University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) hugged each other and shed tears of joy. It was a symbolic and emotional moment, when the new UMCPP ceased to be just a building—and became a hospital.
The moment also represented for me the culmination of a nine-year intensely collaborative planning process with various constituents in the community—from community groups to neighborhood homeowners’ associations, Chambers of Commerce, senior residences, realtors, corporations, foundations, civic associations, religious groups, and individuals. There was also a very robust process that took place at the national, state, and local governmental levels with congressional representatives and senators, state legislators and administrators, and multiple local government elected and appointed officials. We spent time with these groups carefully reviewing what we wanted to do with the new hospital project and why, and they asked thousands of questions. By the time we were done with that process, it was vetted and validated—and changed based on their questions and comments. All of this occurred before we began to work with architects, engineers, designers, and financial and legal advisers. At every phase of the project, our Boards, consisting of community members, physicians, and donors, played a pivotal role in making the most critical decisions. They are people who exist solely to represent the interests and concerns of the community in the work the hospital does, and they do this very well.
Ultimately, we have ended up with a spectacular hospital and campus, and so far, it has met our greatest expectations. This project would not have come to fruition without those of you who contributed to it with your ideas as well as financial resources. If we had neglected to engage the community as we did, we would have missed out on the options and opportunities we have ahead of us. Now our options are as great as our imagination, as we have the resources in place to do great things.
My sincere thanks to those of you who have been and continue to be part of this exciting enterprise.
Article as seen in Foundation News Fall 2012.