There are over 200 current members of The H. Phelps Potter Society comprised of dedicated supporters from our community, staff donors and physician leaders. The following giving levels in our Society are:
|Community Partners||$25,000 and above|
Denny Willson of Devon will always remember the date November 11th. It is when he experienced the most frightening event he had ever encountered in his life.
He was admitted to Paoli Hospital for what seemed to be a routine cardiac catheterization. After the procedure, he was informed that he needed immediate heart surgery the next morning.
Denny had only been in a hospital once before. “My son had a heart problem as a child and was treated at an area children’s hospital. Before that, I had only visited friends who were admitted to a hospital.”
When Dr. Louis Samuels informed Denny that he needed surgery, a lot of things went through his mind rather quickly. “I thought about my wife Claudia, my children and grandchildren, my job, and life after surgery. Fortunately, because it happened so fast, I never really had time to worry too much. The surgery was the next day and I went home just four days later.”
Denny’s open heart surgery was very successful and he is, to this very day, grateful. He has many people to thank. “Dr. Elliot Gerber performed my cardiac cath and Dr. Samuels performed my surgery. I must say that they are magicians and are marvelous. They inspired confidence in me and put my family at ease,” said Denny.
One year after open heart surgery, Denny took a step back to look at his experience. He is grateful that Paoli Hospital has created an environment where both physicians and nurses can apply their skills in a compassionate way. “I am grateful to Dr. Gerber and Dr. Samuels for saving my life, and more than anything else, I am grateful to the men and women on the nursing staff who brought healing to my heart from their own hearts.”
He had the feeling throughout his experience at Paoli that the nurses ‘had his back.’ “If I was hurting, they responded immediately. If I needed company in the middle of the night, they were there. I still tear up when I think of everything they did for me. The nurses who took care of me were highly skilled, caring and compassionate people.”
Because he was so grateful, Denny contributed a charitable donation in support of Paoli Hospital, becoming a member of The H. Phelps Potter Society – a group of supporters who believe in the Hospital’s hallmarks – compassionate care with leading edge treatment.
“This was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. How could I not support this wonderful hospital that gave me so much? This is our neighborhood and we have a great not-for-profit hospital worthy of charitable support. We are blessed with great medical care in the Philadelphia area, and Paoli, I believe, is at that level now. It got here with the help of this community. It will only stay here and continue to excel if we in the community support it.”
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There are people, events, and places that leave distinct impressions on us as we go through life. This is true for Norman Phelps of Malvern, when he thinks about his experiences with Paoli Hospital.
He is the President of The Phelps School, a small, private educational institution that provides individual attention to 150 high school boys (grades 7-12) from the region, 16 states, and 20 different countries.
Norman’s father pursued his dreams of opening a boarding school dedicated to teaching boys. He did his graduate work with a professor at the University of Pennsylvania focusing on dyslexia. “Coupled with his experience teaching at the Gow School for Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities and Valley Forge Military Academy, my father saw the many advantages of a structured boarding school environment for boys with small classes and varied extracurricular activities. In 1946, he opened The Phelps School.”
Norman graduated from The Phelps School. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Randolph Macon College and his master’s degree from Villanova University, Norman returned to The Phelps School to teach and served as Headmaster for 25 years. When he is not busy with the school, Norman and his wife, Nancy are involved with their 13 grandchildren. Kolby, one of their oldest, is excellent in the winter sport of Skeleton, in which an individual rides a small sled down a frozen track – athletes can experience speeds five times the force of gravity. Norman further explains, “Kolby is training and getting ready to try out for the first ever youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria this January.”
Seven months out of the year you will find Norman in upstate Pennsylvania on his working farm. The farm is complete with lush green pastures for the multiple beef cattle he owns. Wild turkeys and bears often visit Norman’s farm. He confesses, “My father had me operating an old Ford tractor at the age of nine. Farming is most certainly in my blood.”
He jokes that the notion of a hospital has always seemed to follow him throughout his life. Both he and his late brother Tim were born at Memorial Hospital in West Chester (the Hospital moved to Paoli in 1968 becoming Paoli Hospital). Their mother Betsy Phelps was a long-standing volunteer at the former hospital in West Chester, and for many years at Paoli Hospital. His daughters Stephanie and Tiffany were born at Paoli Hospital; and even Norman’s wife Nancy, a registered nurse, works in a hospital’s maternity unit in Florida.
“I cannot even tell you the many times over the years we had to rush one
of the boys from the school to Paoli Hospital’s Emergency Department for
various bruises, cuts, and broken bones, even appendixes to be removed,”
said Norman. “I was there so many times that the Emergency Department
staff gave me my very own coffee mug! We are grateful that Paoli
Hospital is so close to our campus.”
Norman continues, “Over those years I have seen the receptiveness and kind and compassionate manner of the physicians, nurses, and caregivers there – they are the embodiment of what a hospital should be for medical care,” he said.
Norman’s physician was the late H. Phelps Potter, M.D., the former Chairman of the Paoli Hospital Medical Staff. The H. Phelps Potter Society is named after Dr. Potter. “Dr. H. Phelps Potter had a wonderful manner about him. He was kind, caring and sympathetic, and took his patients to heart. It is no surprise to me they named The H. Phelps Potter Society in honor of him.”
Norman and his family are patients of Ralph Lanza, M.D., an internal medicine physician at Paoli Hospital, who practices with Great Valley Medical Associates. “Dr. Lanza is a doctor who has a special place in our family. He comes right on the level of Dr. Potter. Our family loves him.”
Norman has made annual charitable gifts to Paoli Hospital for many years supporting our greatest needs and is a member of The H. Phelps Potter Society. He has also been very generous supporting our Nursing Excellence Fund and various capital campaigns. When asked why he is so generous to the Hospital, he replies, “It has left such an impression on me. Seeing it evolve over the years, reading about all of the national awards it receives, and now as the region’s only Trauma Center, Paoli Hospital gives back to everyone in the community with the wonderful care its physicians and nurses provide – this does not just happen anywhere. Among all the charities I give to, Paoli Hospital makes me proud and is number one, always.”
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Mary Alice and Bill Spane of Newtown Square are very grateful. They are grateful for celebrating 51 years of marriage, raising their three daughters, spoiling their nine grandchildren, travelling around the world, and grateful for Ginger, their 4 year-old Shih Tzu and toy poodle mix. They are also grateful they are able to support Paoli Hospital, because it has given them great care.
Bill and Mary Alice left California and settled in Berwyn in 1975. Bill started a successful career in the financial services industry, most notably spending five years on the Philadelphia Stock Exchange which led to starting a securities processing company, BHC Securities, eventually becoming a public company.
“We were a Navy family and lived in many different areas of the country as well as Japan. Bill served in the Navy for 21 years and was commanding officer of the motor gunboat USS Gallup,” said Mary Alice.
After a very distinguished time of service in the Navy, Bill wanted to join the civilian world. “I had decided that I had enough long deployments; too much time away with three growing children. I wanted to spend more time with my family.”
Mary Alice is a member of the Anthony Wayne Branch of the Paoli Hospital Auxiliary. She has served as President of the branch and as Co-Chair of various fundraising events for the hospital, and the Radnor Hunt 3 Day event. When asked how she became involved with the Auxiliary Mary Alice said, “I was invited by a friend to attend a meeting of the Anthony Wayne Branch. I was so impressed with the women and their commitment and spirit in support of the Hospital. I wanted to be part of it. It has been a very fulfilling and rewarding experience. We have made many life-long friends through our commitment to the Hospital.”
Through their years of busy family life, Mary Alice and Bill admit they are grateful for Paoli Hospital in their community.
“We have had various trips to the Hospital’s Emergency Department and I had my appendix removed several years ago,” said Mary Alice. “My experience as a patient was very satisfactory and my surgeon, Dr. Robert Fried, was the best. We have had great care at Paoli and, of course, the nursing staff is unsurpassed. Also, we are most impressed with the Hospital’s Pavilion and the private rooms for patients.”
“Paoli Hospital just keeps getting better and better and we are happy to make an annual charitable donation to The H. Phelps Potter Society to help support the hospital,” said Bill. “We feel like we are part of a family when we contribute. From the doctors to the nurses, and to the volunteers, we are embraced by everyone – that is what makes Paoli Hospital so unique and why we will continue to support it.”
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In the grand scheme of things, life is short and it can easily be taken for granted. Careers take off, families start, children grow up, and retirement looks like it is just around the corner.
For Paoli resident Vince Piotti, the date of September 8, 2003 would change his life forever. It was a beautiful Monday morning. Vince was headed to work at a financial investment firm in nearby Wayne. He got in his car, put the keys in the ignition, then…it happened.
“It felt like someone threw a softball right at my chest – full force. I sat in the seat of my car and thought what the heck is this,” said Vince. “I immediately thought it was my acid reflux – at the time that’s what I had.”
Vince thought things through and since he was only five miles from the office, he would go to work and see how he felt. “So I drove…it didn’t get any better. I came into the office, sat down, and took a few antacids. I waited a minute or two and thought well maybe I should just head home and talk to my wife about it. So I left work and was about 60 percent close to home, when I started to sweat profusely.”
Vince is active with the Chester County Council of the Boy Scouts of America where his son Vince is an Eagle Scout. “In scouting they taught us first-aid and I remember them saying when someone sweats and is in much pain, they most likely are having a heart attack.”
At that point, there was no question - he was driving to Paoli Hospital. He got to the Emergency Department and almost crawled in, the pain was that intense.
“As soon as I entered, I remember seeing a very nice older gentleman sitting with one of the admissions counselors for some problem he was having. He turned around, looked at me, and said, ‘I tell ya pal, you look a lot worse than I do, so why don’t you take my spot!’ Vince remembered saying to him, ‘I think I am going to take you up on that offer!’ Vince laughs and still thinks of that man and appreciates what he did.
Vince was quickly ushered into one of the emergency triage rooms and met with a team of nurses, along with Dr. Stuart Brilliant, Assistant Director of Emergency Medicine at Paoli Hospital. “Everyone took such great care of me. They explained that I was having a heart attack and that they needed to insert a heart catheter to remove blockage around my heart - I was pretty scared.” Vince was especially impressed with the emergency department nurses. Dr. Richard Tucci, a cardiologist at Paoli Hospital was paged and within minutes came in to see Vince, who ironically was his patient. “I said to Dr. Tucci, ‘who would have thought, doctor, right?’” Vince had a stress test a few weeks earlier and there did not seem to be any problems.
“All I can remember from that point on was that they provided me a portable defibrillator machine and sent me to Paoli’s Cardiac Cath Lab, where they worked on me, found the blockage, and cleared it right away. Luckily for me, there was not any blockage elsewhere.” Vince was admitted to Paoli Hospital for three days just to make sure everything was fine, then he was discharged.
He remarks, “Over 30 years ago, when my wife and I moved to Paoli from Delaware County, I spotted the Hospital driving by. I thought, some day, it might be a great advantage having a hospital so close to home – and it might just save my life.”
A few years have passed since his heart attack. Over the years, Vince could not stop thinking of the care and treatment he received at Paoli – he remembers his visit to the Emergency Department and seeing people coming in and out with a wide range of health issues; his wife who worked as a clinical medical assistant for 30 years; and appreciating how hard nurses work and how challenging it is for them; how non-profit organizations such as Paoli Hospital need financial support.
“Nowadays, I don’t have time to volunteer as much, though I would like to, so I asked myself can I give a donation? The Hospital seemed to be a very wise choice. It has such a high level of responsible people. I must say that I was impressed when I read that Paoli had been designated as a Magnet® Hospital for the quality of its nursing.”
Vince donated $1,000 to Paoli Hospital and split his charitable gift in half, allocating $500 to Paoli Hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Department and $500 to the Emergency Department at the Hospital.
“For my family and I, the decision was logical. If the Hospital were to ask me to support it again, I most definitely would.”
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Step into The Title Page bookstore in nearby Rosemont and you will find a collection of over 70,000 rare and used books. You will also find a wise, caring and compassionate person named Beverley Bond Potter, who speaks about her fond memories of being married to one of the most influential physicians in Paoli Hospital’s history.
Dr. H. Phelps Potter arrived at Paoli Hospital in 1969, a year after the
Hospital had completed the momentous move from West Chester to
Paoli. As the Hospital’s first board-certified gastroenterologist,
Dr. Potter spent close to 25 years defining the relationship between
patients and caregivers.
“Phil loved medicine and enjoyed practicing at Paoli Hospital more than anything,” said Beverley. “When he first arrived at the Hospital, it was brand new, fresh from its move. He was very fond of the enthusiasm of the new hospital and saw that as an opportunity to practice the kind of medicine he wanted to practice.”
Asked how they met, Beverley responds: “I met Phil in late December 1956. He was studying to be a doctor at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. Following his Christmas break, he called me and we had our first date. We saw the movie ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ at a theater in Center City. I wore knee socks and it was snowing. We were throwing snowballs at each other in the middle of Sansom Street and there was no one around.” As Beverley holds back tears, she continues: “It was just lovely.”
When she got home from her date, a friend asked her how everything had gone. Beverley remembers saying to her, “I am not in love yet, but he is the man I am going to marry.” In August of 1957, the couple married and later had two daughters: Claire, a history professor at Wesleyan University, and Dorothy, a Spanish teacher and talented musician who resides in New York City.
“Phil and I would have been married forty years if he lived one more month,” said Beverley. “He died in 1997 from prostate cancer, after living with the disease for 13 years. He practiced for eight of those years – they were the most enjoyable for him because he was able to spend more time with his patients, connect with them, getting to know them better.”
In 1995, to honor his legacy, Paoli Hospital administrators and those close to Dr. Potter formed The H. Phelps Potter Society, which currently boasts over 200 members who provide support to Paoli Hospital.
“I thought it was a tremendous thing to dedicate to him. It was nice to see this accolade come along while Phil was still alive,” said Beverley.
Dr. Potter’s love for the Hospital, and the high level of medical care it provides, continue to inspire Beverley Potter to charitably support Paoli.
“Paoli Hospital is extremely well run,” said Beverley. “It was Phil’s love. I give because of the influence it had on him and I like to contribute to organizations that many people can benefit from.”
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Copyright 2011 Main Line Health
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