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Opinion | Jack Connors

Let Children’s Hospital expand

A rendering of Boston Children’s Hospital’s proposed new building.
A rendering of Boston Children’s Hospital’s proposed new building.(SHEPLEY BULFINCH)

When I returned home to Boston in 1966, after starting my career in New York City, I began working in the relatively new offices in the Prudential Center. On the lobby wall of that impressive new building were the words “The future belongs to those who prepare for it.”

In 1904, Harvard University set a cornerstone in place for the new campus of Harvard Medical School. It would mark the beginning of what we have come to know and respect as the Longwood Medical area. There were no hospitals in Longwood at that time, but several entrepreneurial doctors, supported by successful Boston business people and their families, created small hospitals huddled close by what would become the preeminent medical school in the world. Those hospitals had different names, but their missions had one thing in common: to prepare for and provide the best health care for families in Boston and beyond.

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Boston Children’s Hospital was one of those hospitals. Today, thanks to giants who produced important research and outstanding clinical care over the years, it has become the preeminent children’s hospital in the United States. It achieved this ranking the old-fashioned way, as the saying goes — it earned it.

Today, this great institution seeks to further expand, as every successful hospital continues to do. Boston Children’s seeks to modernize its operations to provide better care, in more comfortable surroundings, to the most critically ill children from Massachusetts, the broader New England region, and around the world.

I know a little something about preparing for the future of health care. For 16 years, I had the privilege of serving as the chairman of the board of Partners HealthCare, the largest health care provider in New England. In that role I had a hand in approving billions of dollars of investments to continue to improve the quality of care provided to patients. Most of my decisions were inspired by the words of Dr. H. Richard Nesson, the late president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who always asked (and taught me to do the same), “How will this benefit the patient?” The great doctors, nurses, researchers, and other care providers at Boston Children’s Hospital need to make this investment to provide not just better care, but greater dignity as well.

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There have been questions raised about the cost of health care in the future. This is not an unreasonable question, but I have two answers for consideration. First, an investment of this nature will actually allow the hospital to upgrade old systems and technology, which will allow greater efficiency at lower cost. And second, I have served as a volunteer in hospitals throughout Boston in one capacity or another for almost 25 years now, and I have never heard any parent complain about the cost of saving his or her child’s life, or the cost of improving the quality of the life his or her child will lead.

Hospitals around New England and beyond are referring their most challenging pediatric cases to the talented professionals at Boston Children’s Hospital. These clinicians have dedicated their lives to caring for children with the most complex medical needs. We need to come together and give them our support. We need to let them prepare for a better future for our children and grandchildren. There are so many families who rely on Boston Children’s today — and will rely on it in the future — who will be eternally grateful.

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Jack Connors Jr. is chairman emeritus of Partners HealthCare.