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Remembering Jessie Gruman


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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:

Here are some tributes written in Jessie's honor that have come to the attention of CFAH. If you know of others, please notify us via email or tweet them using @JessieGruman and we will share them similarly here. Thank you.

She was a superlative builder; of an organization, yes, but more importantly, of a body of work that prompted government policymakers and uncounted health care organizations to pay greater attention to the unmet needs of patients... In all these activities, she married intellectual rigor and careful attention to evidence – techie trendiness, for example, did not impress her – with emotional honesty. Jessie spoke what often goes unspoken, candidly acknowledging how horribly scary and alone it feels to be seriously ill... moreby Michael Millenson, President of Health Quality Advisors LLC, on the Health Care Blog

From the moment I first saw her, it was instantly clear that she was simply extraordinary... She wanted to get things done. She did not suffer fools. She was brilliant. What I loved most about her was her sly sarcasm about stuffed shirts and her utter clarity about what matters most in health care. Whenever we shared tea at one or another bistro in Manhattan I was always entranced by her style and her cheer, her sardonic sense of humor and her crackling, sparking intelligence... moreby Dr. Vikas Saini, President of the Lown Institute, on the Lown news site

All those who knew her will all miss her wisdom, perspective, advocacy, and passion. I, personally, have been forever changed as a result of my interactions with Jessie. Jessie had a unique capacity to connect with others on a personal and emotional level, while also offering her input, feedback and perspective in a way that was precise and powerful. One might say that Jessie's "way of being" epitomized effective engagement! ... I am fortunate to have known and been impacted by Jessie. Her clear, articulate voice and pearls of wisdom will be with me forever. As a result, I am more committed than ever to furthering her vision of patient and health engagement... moreby Michael Goldstein, on EmpathyWorks

Jessie was a friend to ECRI Institute and to many of us here, personally... Though she was a heartwarming person, beautiful in every sense of the word, her work aimed to make change, not to warm hearts... She was a colleague in spirit and in action. She knew how to form important questions, seek answers, and help others do the same... moreby Dr. Jeffrey Lerner, President and CEO of ECRI Institute, on the ECRI blog

The medical-industrial complex likes to say they are patient-centered... In Gruman's world, patients are the sun... I read Gruman's blog, the Prepared Patient, and I'll admit that it influenced some of my writing. Other times, I felt we were fighting the same battles as far as getting patients involved and bringing light to issues of charges/costs/prices of health care... My guess is that doctors and health care executives also read Gruman, and we are the better for it... moreby Patti Singer, on the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

The world of empowered and engaged patients is weaker with this loss, but stronger for having had Gruman as a leader for more than two decades, before there even was such a movement... It's no longer taboo for individuals and their families to demand copies of medical records, to be fully involved in medical decisions and to speak up when they think some diagnosis or treatment option doesn't quite sound right. Jessie Gruman was a big part of that important shift... moreby Neil Versel, on Forbes

Jessie Gruman was one of the finest human beings I have ever known. Her loss will be keenly felt by all of us in the health and medical communities who knew her, worked with her, sought her guidance, tried to emulate what she stood for – honesty and integrity come to mind – and who were, most of all, her friends... She wrote her columns on the Prepared Patient site about patient engagement and continually reminded us that the health system must put patients before profits, but patients had to do some heavy lifting too... moreby Trudy Lieberman, Journalist and CFAH William B. Ziff Fellow, on the Association of Health Care Journalists blog

Jessie was one of my first heroes of patient engagement, and I often quoted her in my talks... she used her personal and academic background to understand how people respond to serious illness... She was a brilliant speaker and a cogent writer on the issues that affect patients and in her desire to see patients at the heart of healthcare. Last year I was honored to be asked by her to contribute to a Cancer Survivorship series on her website, and in my email interactions with her she was so kind and encouraging to me... Jessie Gruman will be deeply missed as a compelling voice for the patient. We who mourn her passing will continue her work in her memory... moreby Marie Ennis-O'Conner, on the Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer blog

Jessie was one of the wisest, smartest and most beloved people in the patient engagement world... I heard Jessie speak at a conference a few years ago, and if you've ever had the pleasure, or even better, to know her personally, you know what presence and grace she had. Reading her work, I found this grace alive in her human journey, her insights for the health care industry, her wisdom about the full experience of being a patient, and her choice to stay focused on the good she could do for others with what precious time she had... moreby Pat Mastors, President and Co-Founder of the Patient Voice Institute, on the PVI News blog

Jessie had a remarkable ability to weave her personal patient experiences with a rigorous qualitative research methodology to produce not only insightful commentary but incredibly practical guidance. Jessie was as ardent an advocate for patient engagement as ever existed and yet remained skeptical of "silver bullets" or singular solutions because she understood both the complexity of patient journeys and the great diversity of patient experiences... moreby Joshua Seidman, CFAH William B. Ziff Fellow and Society for Participatory Medicine President and e-Patient Dave deBronkart, on

If you know of other tributes, please notify CFAH via email or tweet a link by using @JessieGruman and we will share them. Thank you.

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Lindsey Hoggle says
July 26, 2014 at 7:11 PM

I learned of Jessie's death tonight, via a message for Society for Participatory Medicine; in part to being what I call being - ironically-a bit "off the grid" due to managing multiple family health issues. Jessie reached out to me a few years back, after reading a blog I wrote. She impressed me at the time by saying -"We need to meet". We did indeed at her office in D.C. a few weeks later. As my background was in nutrition, and realizing she had so many challenges there, I assumed she wanted information on nutrition. Not so. We just needed to meet. We spoke, then and multiple times after, bumping into one another at conferences and health engagements over the following years. She was an instant mentor, someone who in spite of more than her share of pain, somehow connected to the rest of us who needed to know we are not alone. She managed life and it's challenges with a dignity and grace that most of us have little idea how to imagine. My heart aches but in the same way knows that she must have someone whose head is resting on her shoulder in heaven. Thanks for mentoring those big and small in health care, Jessie. You are so loved. Lindsey Hoggle