Claxton-Hepburn board member Patterson receives trustee advocacy award
Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 12:51 pm

OGDENSBURG – During its annual meeting at The Sagamore on Lake George, the Healthcare Trustees of New York State (HTNYS), presented Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center board member, the Reverend Thomas Patterson, the 2010 Trustee Advocacy Award. The award recognizes and encourages trustee engagement in advocacy on behalf of the hospital, health system, or healthcare organization.

Mark Webster, Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center President, notes, “Tom is an exemplar, whose enthusiasm for life, service to others, and inspiring vision is infectious to all of us privileged to work with him.”

For more than three decades, the Reverend Thomas Patterson has made an unparalleled commitment to the welfare of Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center (CHMC) and to the health and well-being of the people it serves in Ogdensburg and throughout the North Country.

Repeatedly through those years, the Directors and Trustees of our hospital have turned to Tom Patterson and his unshakable loyalty, skilled leadership, and wise counsel to help them meet seemingly overwhelming challenges. Through succeeding generations of volunteer and staff leaders, the name Tom Patterson has become synonymous with stalwart dedication. That dedication has extended to the state level as a North Country representative on the Healthcare Trustees of New York State Board of Directors for the last 11 years.

Tom Patterson has served continuously on the volunteer Board of Directors of CHMC for more than thirty years.

He served as Board Chairman from 1988 to 1991 and again from 2004 to 2007. Tom Patterson has served on the CHMC Foundation Board of Directors since 1991, and on the Claxton-Hepburn Health System board since its inception in 1993. He is currently the Foundation Board Chairman, having previously served in that capacity during his time on the board. With close friend and businessman Ned Hackett, he co-chaired the Foundation’s Development Council from 1993 to 1999 and helped raise more than $6 million through the Foundation’s Campaign for Care during those years.

He approaches service on each of the boards with equal dedication to both the medical center and the community he represents. Though soft-spoken, Tom Patterson is never reticent. He willingly shares his skills as a board member and leader, ensuring that the all facets of an issue are explored before a decision is made. He played an indispensible role during a difficult change in hospital leadership, providing guidance and counsel behind the scenes that helped maintain stability within the organization.

Time and again, Tom Patterson has faced the challenges of moving the medical center forward as a fearless leader and fundraiser. He helped shepherd the medical center through many important milestones. One notable example is the instrumental role he played in the creation of the Richard E. Winter Cancer Treatment Center, the first comprehensive cancer treatment center in St. Lawrence County. Motivated by the struggle of finding cancer care for his first wife, who passed away from the disease in 1986, Tom Patterson’s personal passion and dedication inspired local businessman, Richard Winter, to contribute the funds necessary to make the cancer center a reality in 1994, and his fundraising skills were called upon again more than a decade later when the Cancer Center was expanded to nearly double its original size, assuring County residents that they can continue receiving the latest in cancer care close to home.

In 1999, Tom Patterson helped bring another much needed service to the community – the County’s first free-standing renal dialysis center. Again, he was able to secure a substantial gift to build the Dr. Ravinder N. Agarwal Renal Center. In 2000, Tom Patterson successfully negotiated a $7.5 million contribution from Dr. Garfield Claxton. This gift, recognized through the renaming of the medical center, funded The Claxton Legacy Fund at the Foundation, as well as a fund earmarked for future capital projects.

During Tom Patterson’s time on the Foundation Board, the Medical Center raised more money, and invested more of that money in patient care facilities and technology than in any other period in its 125-year history. Much of that success is owed to the personal devotion and leadership skills of Tom Patterson.

Tom Patterson does not limit his contribution of time and talents to just Claxton-Hepburn. The community-at-large also benefits from Tom Patterson’s spirit of giving. He served as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg, New York, for thirty-three years. He served on the Board of Education of the Ogdensburg City School District in the 1970s and was a long-time board member of the Ogdensburg Boys & Girls Club.

In 2003, he joined the Board of Directors of Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley. By sharing his understanding of health care and how Hospice fits into the continuum of care, Tom Patterson helped establish a home support program that links Hospice with St. Lawrence County hospitals, allowing for the better coordination of care for terminally ill patients. He currently serves as the Board Chair and is assisting in the design of the endowment campaign for Hospice.

It is a challenge for Claxton-Hepburn to ensure its voice is heard in Albany and Washington. Tom Patterson worked with representatives from HANYS to establish an annual meeting for the CEOs and board members of the hospitals of the Northern New York Healthcare Association to learn about current healthcare issues and how they affect local hospitals. In 2009, he engaged state-elected officials to help secure a $2.6 million HEAL 11 grant.

He also routinely coordinates meetings for area hospitals to meet with our state representatives.

More recently, he arranged meetings with candidates for the vacant US 23rd District Congressional seat for Northern New York hospitals, helping assure that they better understand the healthcare needs and challenges of the North Country. Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is blessed to have an untiring advocate like Tom Patterson.