By David Pendered
After emerging cancer-free from treatments for prostate cancer diagnosed in May, Jim Kennedy has provided a $25 million grant from the family foundation he oversees to Emory University to improve patient treatment and outcomes.
Kennedy serves as chairman of Cox Enterprises, Inc. and president of the James M. Cox Foundation. The foundation provided $25 million to endow two chairs affiliated with Winship Cancer Institute, according to a statement released Oct. 14 by Cox Enterprises and Emory.
Winship is a non-profit research and patient care center that is affiliated with Emory Healthcare.
The grant is intended to bolster efforts already underway within Emory to ensure the patient and patient’s family are always at the center of attention. Prostate cancer will be the initial focus, and new practices are to be spread across the health care system as they are developed.
Specifically, the statement said, the effort is to focus on fundamental patient care issues including:
- “Simplified appointment scheduling via new technologies;
- “Enhanced coordination among the entire health care team of urologists, radiologists, oncologists, allied health professionals and nurses;
- “Better communication with patients and families including 24-hour access to clinical staff;
- “Telemedicine options;
- “Consistent and effective patient education and follow-up care.”
“The idea for our gift is rooted in my recent experiences with the health care system,” Kennedy said in the statement.
“We want it to be easier and less stressful for patients and their families whenever they face serious health issues,” Kennedy said. “The leaders at Emory will transform the health care experience not only for patients and families, but also for the entire health care team. We believe Emory can serve as a national model for improved health care delivery.”
The grant was announced just as Forbes has published a profile of Kennedy that it says represents Kennedy’s first interview in more than a decade. Forbes.com produced a digital version Sept. 30, and the article is to appear in the Oct. 19 print edition.
The Forbes’ piece is titled, This Billionaire Knows The Secret to Saving A Family Business. It describes how Kennedy came to lead the family company founded by his grandfather, James M. Cox. Cox served twice as Ohio’s governor and ran for president in 1920, with Franklin D. Roosevelt as his running mate.
The story chronicles the business decisions Kennedy made in the years after he became CEO and chairman of Cox in 1988. The company’s value increased by five times during the two decades that followed his assumption of power, according to the Forbes‘ story.
The story included just one reference to Kennedy’s prostate cancer. It followed a paragraph in which Cox was described as, “a company with real vision,” by an analyst from Stifel Financial Corp., a Chicago-based financial advisor.
Here’s the one reference in the article:
- “The man with that vision is feeling older. Kennedy, 30 pounds heavier after hormone therapy to fight his prostate cancer (diagnosed last May, he’s currently cancer-free), is spending a little more time duck-hunting in Mississippi and fly-fishing in Montana. Another nonfamily CEO, John Dyer, took the helm last year. Looking forward, Kennedy sees his career ‘almost at an end.’”
Just to be clear, Kennedy was quoted in the article as wanting to wind down his daily operational duties:
- “I’ve seen people hang on way too long. I’ve seen it in public and private companies. I never wanted to do that,” Kennedy says. “It was also a way to say, ‘You don’t have to be a descendant of Governor Cox to be CEO of this company.’”
Emory executives portrayed the grant as one that will enable research to make substantive improvements in the treatment of patients.
According to Christian Larsen, dean of Emory University School of Medicine and vice president for health center integration in Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center:
- “This generous gift from the Cox Foundation will create an opportunity to translate some of our most successful initiatives in Emory Medicine across key clinical areas and accelerate our ability to deliver the highest quality health care along with the most satisfactory patient and provider experience. Our primary concern is serving our patients and their families both effectively and efficiently.”
According to William Bornstein, chief medical officer and chief quality officer for Emory Healthcare:
- “Our transformative, patient-centered model will build on and accelerate current efforts and have a relentless focus on Lean practices and value at every step of patient care. Simply put, through this innovative investment we plan to build better systems that are efficient, effective, safe, and deeply satisfying for patients, families, and care teams. The best health care outcomes result from shared, coordinated, and streamlined processes, with each person having full confidence and knowledge of their individual roles and skills as well as the goals of the entire team.”
Editor’s note: Pendered worked for the Cox-owned AJC more than 26 years, as is noted in his biography on SaportaReport.