Ostrowsky is beyond grateful for $100M gift — and hopeful it will shine spotlight on health care sector for other philanthropists

RWJBH CEO: Such a gift from a family as respected as the Coopermans will make others ‘sit up and take notice’

Barry Ostrowsky of RWJBarnabas Health. (RWJBH)

Barry Ostrowsky said he can’t thank Leon and Toby Cooperman enough. He said their latest donation — a historic $100 million gift announced Thursday morning — will impact RWJBarnabas Health and the now-renamed Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston for decades to come.

But, as grateful as he was for the donation, Ostrowsky said he always is thankful for the attention the gift will bring to the hospital and the RWJBarnabas Health mission. The gift is the largest donation for a health care facility in New Jersey history.

“It will serve as an attraction for others in the community who also have been successful financially,” he said. “They will see the medical center as a place worthy of this kind of investment from people who the carry great respect for.

“Others will sit up and take notice, obviously of the family giving it, obviously the amount of the gift, but also about the beneficiary of the gift. Now, people might say, ‘Wow, what is going on over there at Barnabas? Should I also consider them as worthy of my philanthropy?’”

Ostrowsky, the CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, said the gift will serve as a multiplier.

“You get the effect of this $100 million drafting and drawing more philanthropy for the very same mission,” he said. “That is a dividend that is beyond the ability to appreciate.”

Leon and Toby Cooperman. (RWJBH)

His appreciation of the Coopermans is more easily described.

“I’ve known Leon and Toby for decades,” Ostrowsky said. “Leon has been a longstanding supporter and contributor. Frankly, I view him as an investor.”

In 2014, the Coopermans donated $25 million toward a $200 million, five-story, 241,000-square-foot medical building with 114 private rooms and a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit. The building, which opened in 2017, was named the Cooperman Family Pavilion in their honor.

Ostrowsky said the historic $100 million gift is reflective of a few things.

“One, they are incredibly generous people who want to improve the community — and they do it through a lot of vehicles; we happen to be one of them, for which we can’t be grateful enough,” he said.

“And, two, they believe in the mission and the vision we have both at the system level and at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.”

In total, the family has given more than 100 gifts to the facility — which is another number that is not lost on Ostrowsky.

“I obviously love the quantity of the gift — $100 million is unbelievable — but I truly appreciate the fact that he thinks enough of us and the mission and the commitment we have to the communities to use us as that vehicle for his interest in making a community better,” he said. “That is really gratifying.

“The numbers on the check are just too much to really contemplate. But the fact that he is a believer in what we do — you can’t put a price tag on that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic obviously has brought attention to the importance of health care — and the cost of health care.

Cooperman, however, has known that for decades, Ostrowsky said.

“He has been committed to health care for a very long time,” he said. “He was committed at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, even before it was part of our system. He has been committed at Saint Barnabas Medical Center for decades.

“This has been consistent in their lives of both interest and philanthropy for a very long time, pandemic notwithstanding.

“He didn’t need the pandemic to bring any attention to what health care requires in order to do its best. And, of course, we’re thankful for that. He’s a special man, and they are a very special family.”