Beth Israel Deaconess-Plymouth

Tribute to J. Richard Gaintner, M.D.

Dr. J. Richard GaintnerThe Jordan community will long remember Dr. J. Richard Gaintner, former Jordan Health Systems Board member, who passed away in May, 2004, at the age of 68. To honor Dr. Gaintner's service to Beth Israel Deaconess - Plymouth and pay lasting tribue to his memory, we have established the J. Richard Gaintner, M.D., Memorial Fund.

Dr. Gaintner was appointed to the Jordan Health Systems Board in 2001, a plan he had all along, to serve Beth Israel Deaconess - Plymouth and health care in this community following his retirement. “Dick Gaintner,” noted Alan Knight, then President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess - Plymouth and Jordan Health Systems, “represented a rare mix of intelligence, compassion, common sense, and a contagious sense of humor. I will personally miss his wisdom and sage advice.”

Bob Coggins, Chair of the Jordan Health Systems Board at that time, said, “Dr. Gaintner’s experience on the national health care scene brought such depth to the table, and provided a crucial perspective to operations that was invaluable to us.”

Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dr. Gaintner was a long-time resident of Duxbury, Massachusetts and Gainesville, Florida. He is survived by his wife, Sue, their three daughters, and seven grandchildren.

His illustrious career is highlighted with numerous awards, academic appointments, and publications authored. He received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1962, and performed his internship and residency at the University Hospitals of Cleveland.

He was a captain in the Army Medical Corps and served in Vietnam as Assistant Chief of Staff at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon. He received the Army Commendation Medal in July 1966 for “Meritorious Service in the Republic of Vietnam.” Through the 70s, he served as Vice President of Medical Affairs at New Britain General Hospital and held several positions at University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

During the early 1980s, Dr. Gaintner returned to Johns Hopkins to serve as an Associate Dean of the medical school, as well as Vice President and Deputy Director of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was inducted into their Society of Scholars – a university-wide honor.

He served as President and CEO at New York’s Albany Medical Center from 1983 to 1989, at New England Deaconess Hospital from 1989 to 1994, and at Pathway Health Network from 1994 to 1996. He became President of CareGroup HealthCare System in 1996, which encompasses a wide range of physician practices, and teaching and community hospitals in the greater Boston area.

In April 1997, Dr. Gaintner went to Gainesville, Florida, to become CEO of Shands Healthcare, a position he held until 2001. He went on to serve as interim Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the American Hospital Association, and received an AHA Trustees Award, honoring him for his 30-plus years of working to improve health care. He remained active as an interim dean and advisor to various medical schools and health care organizations.

Dr. Gaintner wrote about his experience on the other side of the health care delivery system – as a patient. In the publication, Hospital and Health Networks, June 2003, he described “an arsenal of machinery and chemicals” used in his care. He wrote, “…the technology is not the journey; it’s the station stops on the way. The journey is one of the spirit and human experience.”

The Jordan community has lost a great friend and leader. Dr. Gaintner will be sorely missed by all of us.

For more information or to make a donation to the J. Richard Gaintner, M.D., Memorial Fund, please contact Sara Matthews in the Philanthropy Office at 508-830-2420 or email