BRISTOL >> State Senator Robert M. Tomlinson, who is credited with helping to save Lower Bucks Hospital from closure, accepted the hospital’s Dee Brown Lifetime of Service Award during a special fundraising reception held on Nov. 7 at the hospital.
The award is presented to an individual who has devoted admirable energy and enthusiasm to the organization's success. To be considered, nominees must have a demonstrated track record of loyalty to the hospital and its civic responsibility. They must also personify Dee Brown's tenacity for ensuring the best outcomes for the hospital's initiatives.
On hand to congratulate the lifelong Lower Bucks County resident on the award were Dr. Sonia Mehta, the Regional CEO and Corporate Chief Medical Officer with Prime Healthcare; Lower Bucks Hospital CEO Michael Motte; US Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick; State Rep. Gene DiGirolamo; Raising the Bar’s Bill Pezza; Bristol Borough Councilman Louis Quattrocchi; Bristol Borough Manager Jim Dillon; Bucks County Rescue Squad Chief Marty Liczbinski; James Sell, Executive Director at the Gene & Marlene Epstein Campus at Lower Bucks County Community College; Bristol Borough Mayor Joe Saxton; and State Rep. Tina Davis.
Proceeds raised during the special evening will benefit Gaudenzia Inc., which has been helping people in their recovery from addiction for 50 years.
Serving about 17,500 individuals annually, Gaudenzia operates 169 drug and alcohol treatment programs at 101 facilities for men and women in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and Washington, D.C. Through its services, Gaudenzia helps individuals, families and communities overcome the ravages of addiction.
Dr. Sonia Mehta, the Regional CEO and Corporate Chief Medical Officer with Prime Healthcare, joined Dee Brown in presenting the award to Tomlinson.
“I want to take you back to 2010. Lower Bucks Hospital was operating in an incredibly challenging environment. There was an unprecedented downturn in the economy,” said Mehta.
“Lower Bucks Hospital was suffering some extraordinary circumstances with operating losses of nearly $20 million over the previous five years.
“Our honoree,” she said, “recognized the struggle within our community, and the effect on Lower Bucks Hospital” and “took immediate action by helping to pass the Table-Games Bill (Senate Bill 711).”
The Bill legalized table games in Pennsylvania casinos, including Parx in nearby Bensalem, but more importantly for the community provided a new stream of tax revenue to support vital services in the community, including Lower Bucks Hospital
“It’s been said of this year’s honoree, that he has for some time, and continues to, put his whole heart and soul into our community and our hospital,” said Mehta. “Throughout his career, he has been a leader and has earned the admiration of his colleagues and the respect of our community.
“What else can be said that makes this man so appropriate for the Dee Brown Lifetime Achievement Award? It should be evident, therefore, that, from all perspectives and community contributions — Senator Tomlinson has been champion of our hospital and a leader in this community.
“We are very grateful to Senator Tomlinson for being with us tonight and for graciously agreeing to accept the Dee Brown Lifetime Achievement Award. So, Senator, on behalf of everyone here, I’d like to say thanks for being a man of action and what our community needs.”
Added Dee Brown, for whom the award is named, “Many times we were ready to close our doors here, but we could always count on Tommy figuring out a way to find the money and keep the doors open. Plus we had such great employees here that helped us keep the doors open many times and we became a hospital that has saved many, many lives.”
Applause filled the room as Brown presented Tomlinson with the award. “May you enjoy it in good health,” she said.
In accepting the award, Tomlinson said one of the reasons he has worked so hard for the hospital is because of people like Brown and many others, including his own mom, Florence, who dedicated themselves to the hospital.
“It’s you, it’s my mom, and that whole generation. And not only that, this hospital saved my father’s life,” he said. “It’s always had a warm place for me.”
Speaking about the gaming grants, Tomlinson thanked his former colleague Tommy Corrigan for his help in the state house of representatives. “I couldn’t have done it without him. He was a Democrat in the House. I was a Republican in the senate. And many times we went arm-in-arm to get that money.
“We knew that if the hospital was going to be successful it had to retire its debt. So what we did was to dedicate a fund to retire the debt and make the hospital affordable to get into a group of hospitals and survive,” he said.
“The story is, ‘Yep, we got rid of the debt and a group came in and bought the hospital and they’ve done a great job with it.’ I’m happy to be a part of that,” said Tomlinson.
“Thank you, Dee, for you inspiring me and that whole generation. Thank you Tommy Corrigan. And thank you Lower Bucks Hospital for saving my dad’s life and a lot of other people’s lives.
“The thing that’s important is that it’s a community hospital and people need community hospitals. And it’s still doing a wonderful job for the people who live around here. It’s crucial to our area to have this hospital be a success.
“That’s why I went to Harrisburg - to take care of the community,” said Tomlinson. “And because of you, Dee, I really cherish this award.”
State Representative and now Commissioner-elect Gene DiGirolamo said he can’t think of anyone more deserving than Tommy to receive the award.
“And I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that if it wasn’t for Senator Tomlinson this hospital would not be here,” he said. “And I’m telling you the truth because I watched him out in Harrisburg fight relentlessly on behalf of this hospital for a good number of years. If it wasn’t for him and the revenue that he brought back to help this hospital, it wouldn’t be here.
“Tommy,” he said. “You richly deserve this award.”
Tomlinson, a native of Bensalem and a graduate of Bensalem High School and the Bordentown Military Institute, earned his bachelor’s degree from West Chester State College in 1970.
In his younger days he played football at West Chester College, where he was captain of the football team in 1969 and helped the team capture the state championship in 1967 and 1969.
He also played in the Tangerine Bowl in 1967.
In 1971, Tomlinson graduated from Miami-Dade University with a degree in Mortuary Science. He became a funeral director, owning and operating the Tomlinson Funeral Home in Bensalem, a family business established in 1945.
From 1991 to 1994, he served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, representing the 18th District. And from 1994 to today he has represented the sixth senatorial district.
The Senator serves on numerous committees, including Transportation, Education, Community, Economic and Recreational Development and Rules and Executive Nominations.
He’s a Chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, which works to protect the rights of Pennsylvania consumers and ensures that individuals in regulated professions adhere to the highest standards.
In the past, he served on the Board of Directors at Lower Bucks Hospital.
He is currently a member of the Bensalem Rotary, the Lower Bucks County Chamber of Commerce, the Bensalem Lions, YWCA Advisory Council and many others.
In addition, he serves on the board of directors for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and is a member of the Council of Trustees at West Chester University.