Marvel Cup goes to Dr. Bob

By Kathy Canavan

The Delaware State Chamber of Commerce awarded its highest honor to a nationally recognized healthcare pioneer known locally as Dr. Bob.

Dr. Robert Laskowski, who retired as CEO of Christiana Care Health System in September, received the Josiah Marvel Cup at the chamber’s annual dinner last week.

The award, named for a pivotal chamber president, honors a Delawarean who has made an outstanding contribution to the state.

Laskowski, obviously surprised when he received the award at the chamber’s annual dinner on January 12, said, “You got me.”

“I’m humbled,” he said. I know the people who have received this away in the past. That is an impressive group. It’s hard for me to get my head around this.”

Laskowski’s 11 years at Christiana Care coincided with volatile changes in the health care market – new technologies, rising costs, more patients who could not pay, plus the dismantling of the country’s six-decade-old employer-sponsored health insurance system.

Dr. Bob Laskowski and wife Kathy celebrate his award with Gov. Jack Markell.

Still, with him at the helm, the health system was transformed:

  • Helen F. Graham Cancer Center became one of the first National Cancer Institute Community Cancer Centers.
  • Christiana Care expanded in Pennsylvania with Concord Health Center.
  • Christiana Care’s long-term Standard and Poor’s bond rating rose to AA.
  • The hospital established an emergency department in Middletown.
  • Wilmington Hospital became a state-of-the-art city care center thanks to a $210 million expansion.
  • The new Center for Heart & Vascular Health opened.
  • Christiana Care’s Medical Home Without Walls program was established to bring health care to needy persons wherever they are living – even under bridges. The health care system absorbs charity care to the tune of about $30 million a year.
  • Project Engage was started to link patients with substance-abuse problems with treatment programs.
  • The Independence at Home program was established to keep 400 frail elderly patients out of nursing homes.
  • Christiana Care was named one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals by Truven Health Analytics.
  • The Christiana Care Value Institute was established to study health care with the goal of implementing strategies to achieve better health outcomes at lower costs.
  • The hospital launched Christiana Care Quality Partners, a new network of health care providers who will develop clinical initiatives that improve access to care, clinical quality, cost control and the patient experience.
  • Under Dr. Laskowski, Christiana Care dramatically improved its treatment of serious septis infections, becoming one of a handful of hospitals nationally to be recognized for its results.
  • Established the Center for Translational Research to focus on epidemiological research and health data.
  • Laskowski also serves as a board member of Wilmington’s HOPE Commission, the coalition attempting to address the factors leading to violent crime in the city.  He is a board member of the Association of American Medical Colleges and serves on the American Medical Association Section on Medical Schools.

A board-certified internist specializing in geriatric medicine, Dr. Laskowski is a professor of clinical medicine at Jefferson Medical College and a senior fellow at the Jefferson School of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

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