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Recent Tributes to Jessie Gruman, CFAH Founder and President


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Last week we gathered several tributes to Jessie that were published in the days following her death on July 14. Here are additional acknowledgments of Jessie that have come to our attention since then. If you know of others, please notify us via email or tweet them using @JessieGruman and we will share them similarly here. Thank you.

While medical advances and ongoing treatment played a large role in Gruman's ability to live 40 years with cancer on and off, her own contributions were probably a part of it too. They included examining the evidence for herself and sometimes challenging doctors' opinions... In her time leading the Center for Advancing Health, Gruman worked at the forefront of studying patient decision-making processes and championing patient empowerment. She also offered skepticism and criticism – for instance, highlighting some missed promises of digital health and pointing out the tension between population-based care and personalized medicine... Participation, just as much as engagement, was Gruman's motto... moreby Anthony Brino, Editor, HIEWatch, on Healthcare IT News

As a colleague, Jessie had the unique combination of intellectual brilliance and impatience required to advance the field. And that she did... She advocated for policy change and worked tirelessly within and across organizations for change. She wrote voluminously and pointedly from her unique perch about what needs to happen, how it can happen and how it does happen. She convened meetings that brought together leaders to not only puzzle through the knotty problems of engaging patients in health and health care, but to move forward from top to bottom. It is impossible to catalog her contributions... moreby Connie Davis, CFAH William B. Ziff Fellow and Faculty Member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Blue Shirt blog

A true patient advocate, she promoted not only patient engagement but the use of evidence-based medicine to support the adoption of healthy behavior. In addition to her professional career, Gruman defined herself as a musician, avid reader of poetry and interested in foreign policy, the media and global health... In her own words, "I believe that health care is a shared enterprise: that my clinicians can't ease my pain or cure my diseases without my participation, just as I would not be here today without theirs. My aim is to encourage professionals and patients to find a common understanding of their shared challenge with the aim of helping each individual live well for as long as possible."... moreon the Disruptive Women in Health Care blog

Jessie was an inspiring and passionate advocate for patients, and her work has touched many facing the challenges of a chronic illness. We were recently honored to celebrate Jessie's work at the 2013 Rays of Hope event, where she was the recipient of the NCCS Excellence in Media Award for her contributions to encouraging patient engagement and her exceptional achievements in furthering the interests of cancer survivors through media. Our condolences go out to her colleagues, friends, and family. It was truly an honor to share in her warm spirit and passion for advocacy, and she will be greatly missed... moreby the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

A message from Jessie's family:

We are incredibly overwhelmed and honored by the outpouring of love, admiration and grief following Jessie's death. Though we knew this was likely Jessie's last cancer, she and Richard, Jessie's husband (my brother), fought so tenaciously for so very long.

A light has gone out in our family, and we greatly appreciate knowing that you share our devastation, shock and loss. I'm sure you will hear more from us, but please know what a comfort it is to read all of these tributes, tweets and comments.

Thank you,
Virginia Sloan
Jessie's sister-in-law

Memorial services honoring Jessie will be held in New York City and Washington, DC in the fall. Jessie's family has asked that contributions be made to:

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Please note: CFAH reserves the right to moderate all comments posted to the Prepared Patient® Blog. Any inappropriate postings will be removed.

Delores Parron-Ragland, Ph.D. says
July 25, 2014 at 4:40 PM

I met Jessie Gruman for the first time when she came to my office at the National Institute of Mental Health. Her mission was to tell me about the Center for the Advancement of Health and measure my interest in joining the Board of Trustees. As we talked, I saw in her something that I identified with: a commitment to moving beyond the status quo in patient care in both medical and mental health care. I knew the source of my advocacy was the years that I spent as faculty at Howard University College of Medicine teaching a course for medical students, "Introduction to Patient Care". My goal then was to add another dimension to the belief system of these budding scientists that patients were more than a diagnosis and providing quality care would require appreciation and attention to multiple dimensions of their lives. I did not immediately grasp that Jessie's commitment grew initially from her own experience as a patient. What I knew very clearly was that we were on the same page. I felt honored that she would ask me to join her in moving our shared vision forward. Thus, Jessie and I were colleagues but also good friends. I respected her warmth and compassion that combined with a clear-eyed policy wonk! We had fun visiting lively restaurants along Connecticut Avenue to decompress from our busy jobs and share our views on emerging trends in our lives.

When I left NIMH 1999, for the wider world of the Department of Health and Human Services, we stayed in touch. The down time with a friend like Jessie became even more important. I retired from government in 2007. Retirement has given me the opportunity to do what I recommended to countless others, "Take time to smell the roses".

I am saddened by Jessie's passing. She has, without question, made our world a better place and left us roadmaps so we can advance her legacy.