Einstein Healthcare Network celebrated its 150th anniversary at the National Constitution Center with Jason Alexander and Diana Ross.
The National Constitution Center was even more full of American history than usual last week.
In addition to its normal collection of historical facts and figures related to the Constitution, the Independence Mall venue hosted Einstein Healthcare Network’s 150th anniversary on Jan. 14, complete with the organization’s own set of landmarks and luminaries.
The event was hosted by actor and comedian Jason Alexander, and culminated with a performance by legendary singer Diana Ross.
Alexander briefed the audience with a comedic history lesson on Einstein, and Ross graced the stage shimmering in a teal sequin dress.
Alexander, best known for his role as George Costanza on Seinfeld, has also been awarded for his work acting, producing, directing and writing across several media.
Barry Freedman, CEO of Einstein, said he was thrilled about the celebrity attendees.
“We were interested in choosing [Alexander] as a host not only because he’s popular, extremely funny and extremely talented, but he has Jewish roots,” he noted. “And for people like me who have been around for years, it’s wonderful to hear somebody like” Ross, the former lead singer of the Supremes and an international star in her own right over a decades-long career.
The 1866 mission and founding principle of Einstein — then called the Jewish Hospital — was to “provide relief to the sick and wounded, without regard to creed, color, nationality or ability to pay” — a revolutionary concept for its time.
During that era, Jewish Philadelphians and immigrants, Jewish soldiers returning from the Civil War and free slaves moving to the North all needed medical care, so they came to the Jewish Hospital.
It also established a place for Jewish physicians to learn and practice — something that continues to this day. In fact, Einstein Medical Center is the largest independent academic medical center in the Philadelphia area, training more than 3,500 health professional students each year.
“It was a foundational aspect of the Jewish community and a support to it, but the mission evolved to include growth and expansion,” Freedman said, “and to develop ever-present capabilities for particularly vulnerable populations.”
After 150 years, Freedman said, “this is an opportunity for us to bring together our patients, our physicians, our employees, our donors, our community members to really celebrate this remarkable milestone.”
The original 22-bed hospital in West Philadelphia has evolved into a regional health care system known for offering top-notch care in specialties such as women’s health, physical medicine and rehabilitation, heart and vascular care, kidney transplant, liver disease and breast health.
Einstein has 8,500 employees and three care hospitals, including Einstein Medical Center, Einstein Medical Center Elkins Park and Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, along with MossRehab, a world-renowned provider of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
All of the funding received from a capital campaign that has been going on for over the past five years goes toward patient care, community and clinical programs, research, and brick-and-mortar facilities, Freedman added.
“For me personally, just to be involved as a member of the Jewish faith, of learning the principles, tenets and values,” he said, “to see them embodied in an organization that to this day still believes in tikkun olam and tzedakah … is a validation of everything I was taught and everything I believe.”
Joan Gubernick, vice president of marketing, said Einstein decided to celebrate its 150th with a yearlong celebration, kicking off with this event that will touch all of Einstein’s audiences over the next year.
This kickoff will be followed by other big events to come, such as the Great Thinkers Series on March 10 and Sept. 8, a series of short, thought-provoking talks from experts. The first event will host weekend Good Morning America co-anchor Dan Harris.
Additionally, the Harvest Ball Weekend Celebration, from Nov. 3 to 6, will feature dining and entertainment to illustrate different eras of Einstein’s history, an honorary reception and an alumni event.
It was announced during the 1,200-strong event that Einstein hit a milestone for its capital campaign ahead of schedule, raising $150 million — and that it will continue to increase that goal. The campaign is being managed by Wayne Kimmel, a member of Einstein’s Board of Trustees and chairman of its development committee, campaign chairs Richard and Betsy Sheerr and Carol Prushan, vice president and chief development officer at Einstein.
Alison and Marc Feldman, Susan and Leonard Klehr, Jill and Jon Powell, and Nancy and Marc Shrier served as chairpersons for the gala.
After the event, Gubernick said she received a number of thank-you notes. One of her favorites came from a third-generation Philadelphian, who stated that Einstein “demonstrated that we are not only the institution that can create a world-class facility in the suburbs, but that we graciously carry on and pass the baton and take care of all the communities that we serve.”
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