We are surrounded by cynicism and disrespect. Almost daily, people argue that our public institutions are “inept and inefficient” our leaders are “narrow minded, self serving and corrupt” and the public is “naive, easily manipulated, incapable of serious debate and rude.”

Our simple idea was that we could achieve our goal of building a new hospital on a new, comprehensive health care campus if we simply rejected all the cynical notions and assumed the best of the people and organizations around us. We did all of our work in the open. We told the truth, we communicated regularly. We listened carefully, sought input, responded to suggestions that were reflected in our plans. We acted ethically and we never forgot that we exist to serve the public and not the other way around.

We invited the public, government officials and area companies and foundations to participate in all of our planning activities. We shared our data and conclusions openly and adjusted our work based upon what we heard. We shared our final plan with the community as a whole, as well as with our United States senators, congressmen, New Jersey governor, state legislators, mayors, municipal officials, and union and business leaders. We shared our plan with our current and future neighbors and the people we are here to serve.

In the end, the state government leaders and elected officials from every municipality in the region unanimously supported our plans and have worked to help us implement them. So far, we have raised $92 million of our $115 million capital campaign goal with the generous support of foundations, corporations, organizations, and individuals. Our physicians and staff support our efforts as demonstrated by their help in designing the new facility and making philanthropic contributions.

Our replacement hospital project is on time, on budget, and likely to achieve its goal of providing state-of-the-art, compassionate, cost-effective care. The planning strategy had one fundamental principle: reject the cynicism and treat everyone as smart, well-intended partners.

Rabner, president and CEO of Princeton HealthCare System, has more than 25 years of experience in hospital and healthcare administration. He earned bachelor’s degrees in zoology and chemistry from the University of Maryland. He then studied French language and philosophy for a year at l’Universite Paris Sorbonne before earning his master’s in public health administration from Rutgers. Rabner’s mother worked as a nurse her entire life. In her honor, he started the Ann Rabner Award for Nursing Excellence.

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