by John Cacciamani, MD CEO, Chestnut Hill Hospital

The face of health care has changed dramatically since the first National Hospital Week was celebrated in May of 1921. Hospitals are fewer in number but larger in size. Gone are the nurses’ caps and starched white uniforms. Records are kept electronically, surgeons use lasers and tiny incisions to perform major operations and technological advancements provide lab results in minutes.

But one thing hasn’t changed: Hospitals remain the foundation of the community through their compassionate care and their tireless dedication to the well-being of their neighbors.

We appreciate the hard work and devotion that the 700 men and women of Chestnut Hill Hospital bring to their jobs every day. We pause to honor them at this time and will celebrate with an employee picnic to recognize the personal sacrifices they make as they answer their calling.

Hospital workers report for duty on weekends and holidays, in the wee hours of the morning or late at night. They are here tending to you and your loved ones, keeping floors clean and equipment running in the middle of a blizzard or on a warm, sunny day. If there is a natural disaster, they are here in full force. Sickness, emergencies and personal tragedies pay no attention to the weather.

While many people make the first jaunt to the shore with their families this weekend, many Chestnut Hill Hospital employees – doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff – will spend the days serving others. They will be at the side of a neighbor who is suffering from chest pain, or reassuring a visitor whose parent is in critical condition. They will be reading X-rays or lab results in the emergency room or preparing meals to offer nourishment and some sense of comfort to the loved ones of the ailing relative.

This is what we do in hospitals: We touch lives. And, at Chestnut Hill, we bring the best of Center City health care closer to home. Last year Chestnut Hill Hospital touched more than 150,000 lives through inpatient and outpatient care. Our affiliations with Penn, Jefferson and Temple exemplify our commitment to quality care. We performed 4,000 surgeries and attended to patients in 35,000 emergency room visits in 2013, up six percent from 2012.

While we wade through the ever-changing health insurance waters, we continue to serve our less fortunate neighbors; last year Chestnut Hill Hospital provided $19 million in charity and uncompensated care.

Numbers and dollar signs aside, it is our employees whom we value most, not only for their commitment to their patients but for their many roles in the community. These are the people who volunteer at their place of worship, serve as Little League coaches and participate in weekend fundraisers to help causes like the American Cancer Society and more locally, Laurel House. These are the people who support local merchants, invest in homes and keep civic organizations active.

The face of health care and the look of hospitals may have changed dramatically in the last few decades but what remains constant is the unwavering dedication of the men and women who come to work every day to ensure the continuity of care. Join us this week as we salute them for their contributions to our hospitals, our communities and our health.