The First Wealth

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The first wealth is health.” His comment is not only a great piece of homespun wisdom, it’s the philosophy behind the cutting-edge medical science and next-generation clinical care at Jefferson.

For Jefferson, primary care is primary. It’s vital to the healthcare system, and it’s vital to patients. “Primary care is really the heart of clinical care,” says Bruce Meyer, MD, president of Jefferson Health and senior executive vice president of Thomas Jefferson University.

For a majority of people, primary care is the main source of routine medical care. Primary care clinicians manage the majority of people’s health needs throughout their lives, refer patients to specialists across the health-services system, and help keep patients out of the system by preventing illness and promoting health. Primary care also includes health maintenance, counseling, patient education, and diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. Above all, primary care is a practice that focuses on the long-term well-being of each person rather than on the disease of a particular organ system.

Primary care is one of the main ways Jefferson provides the best possible care with the highest patient satisfaction at the lowest cost. “We provide much more value—socially, medically, and economically—if we prevent strokes or heart attacks than we do by treating them,” Meyer says. Disease prevention and health promotion are core strengths of primary care, and they’re key strategies for reimagining a smarter, more cost-effective, and patient-friendly healthcare system.

We have to guarantee that people in our community receive a high level of quality care, a consistently high level of outcomes, and an excellent level of patient experience no matter where they encounter a Jefferson provider

Bruce Meyer, MD

Philanthropic investments can help Jefferson transform healthcare by supporting primary care initiatives. These could include funds for patient education and healthy lifestyle programs, support for health professionals to build out primary care teams, and investments in telehealth to help patients access care when and where they need it. Giving in support of these and other initiatives is aimed at one thing: serving our community by meeting the health needs of the Philadelphia region.

The human body is more than the sum of its parts. Each assemblage of organ systems and molecular subsystems is a person—a unique me—with personal loves and private hurts and a special life story. This is the level of intimacy and trust where primary care is practiced. Everything Jefferson does puts patients and families first—all in the name of Emerson’s “first wealth,” so that every me can live a rich and rewarding life.