Thursday, July 17, 2014

Jessie Gruman's Legacy

Last May, I wrote a post, Jessie Gruman, A True Champion for Patient Engagement, highlighting the extraordinary contributions that Jessie has made as a tireless advocate for this cause.

This week, after a long illness, Jessie died, generating both great sadness and wonderful tributes from those who had the good fortune to know her, work with her or benefit from her myriad contributions to the fields of patient engagement, health policy, behavioral medicine and public health.

I, too, am deeply saddened by this news. All those who knew her will all miss her wisdom, perspective, advocacy, and passion. 
I, personally, have been forever changed as a result of my interactions with Jessie. Jessie had a unique capacity to connect with others on a personal and emotional level, while also offering her input, feedback and perspective in a way that was precise and powerful.
One might say that Jessie's "way of being" epitomized effective engagement! 
As I noted in my post in May, the Jessie is the founder of the Center for Advancing Health, an organization which has developed, collected and disseminated fabulous resources and tools on patient engagement, health behavior, health policy and other related topics. See also Jessie's Prepared Patient Blog, where an In Memoriam statement has been posted from M. Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH, Chair of CFAH's Board of Trustees. You will also find many wonderful tributes from colleagues and respected leaders from the many fields that have been touched by Jessie's work.

Jessie's has also left us several several books, written from the patient perspective, in which she shares her insights as a patient, researcher, advocate, consultant and policy expert. Her books include:

Aftershock: When the Doctor Gives you - or Someone You Love - a Devastating Diagnosis(2007),
Cancer Survivorship: What I Wish I'd Known Earlier (2013)
Slow Leaks: Missed Opportunities to Encourage Our Engagement in Health Care (2013)A Year of Living Sickishly: A Patient Reflects (2013)
I am fortunate to have known and been impacted by Jessie. Her clear, articulate voice and pearls of wisdom will be with me forever. As a result, I am more committed than ever to furthering her vision of patient and health engagement.


  1. Virginia Sloan, Jessie Gruman's sister-in-law, asked CFAH to share this note from Jessie's family:

    Jessie's family is incredibly overwhelmed and honored by the outpouring of love, admiration, and grief following Jessie's death. Though we knew this was likely Jessie's last cancer, she and Richard, Jessie's husband, and my brother, fought so tenaciously for so very long.

    A light has gone out in our family, and we greatly appreciate knowing that you share our devastation, shock, and loss. I'm sure you will hear more from us, but please know what a comfort it is to read all of these blogs, tweets, and other posts.

    Thank you,
    Virginia Sloan

  2. To CFAH Staff and members of Jessie's family. I can only imagine the deepness of your grief and heart goes out to all of you. Your ongoing support of Jessie's vision and mission helped her voice be heard far and wide. I look forward to working with CFAH, family members and the legions of others that will continue to support her causes.