GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

May 14, 2013

Editorial: Dr. Wolfe's lasting AGH legacy

The sudden passing of Dr. John Wolfe at the age of 70 last week is obviously a loss felt not only by his family and friends, but throughout the Cape Ann medical and health care community, and by, of course, his patients.

As Cindy Cafasso Doaldson, vice president of Addison Gilbert Hospital, noted (Letters, the Times, Monday, May 13) Dr. Wolfe was a pioneer on many counts, serving as AGH’s first infectious disease expert, in bringing a physician’s perspective to the fight against substance abuse, and later in working with the Healthy Gloucester Collaborative, which brings together health-care personnel, law enforcement, schools and the business community in an effort to combat underage drinking, drug abuse and a variety of other issues.

But Dr. Wolfe’s proudest, lasting legacy may stem from his intense and courageous work in defense of AGH at a time when the hospital — and the Cape Ann community — needed it most. That was when then-Northeast Health CEO Stephen Laverty had pulled one service after another out of Cape Ann’s community hospital, and shifted it to Beverly before Wolfe and others dug in their heels.

With Wolfe in the lead, he and 25 other AGH physicians purchased a full-page ad in the Times essentially calling out the Northeast Board of Trustees against using AGH’s then $30 million endowment to grow Beverly Hospital at the expense of Addison Gilbert. And his effort sparked awareness on several fronts, adding fuel to efforts by state Sen. Bruce Tarr and then-mayor John Bell.

With Northeast’s 2012 merger into the new Lahey Health, the community’s vigilance for AGH has remained steadfast — and it must. And those ongoing efforts should continue as a tribute to Dr. Wolfe’s legacy.

To that end, we extend our sincere condolences to his family members, his many friends, and all whom worked with him at AGH, Cape Ann Medical Center, and elsewhere. But we also extend our profound thanks for his efforts to ensure that Cape Ann will always have a vibrant community hospital — and hope that commitment is never, ever, forgotten.

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