Mission and Focus
Established in the will of J.S. Rippel, our legal mission is to address the health and care needs of women and the elderly, those with cancer and heart disease, and the facility challenges facing our nation’s hospitals. Recognizing the remarkable changes in health and health care over the last 60 years, the Trustees have determined the best way to leverage the Foundation’s limited resources is to address our mission in the context of the current environment. The Foundation fully acknowledges that women and the elderly constitute the major consumers of health care in our country. Hospitals are undergoing major challenges related to mission, facilities, and finances. Scientific advances are increasingly transforming cancer and heart disease into chronic conditions. And growing epidemics of cancer and heart disease are too often related to unhealthy behaviors or are exacerbated by a lack of access to or costs of care. Data shows that these are challenges that increasingly exist in every region of our country. And while affected by national and state policy, it is increasingly evident that many of these issues are best addressed at a regional level where local culture and practices drive health behavior, health care consumption and patterns of cost and delivery.
In developing a contemporary approach to the mission, the Rippel Foundation has drawn heavily on the work of its first president, J.S. Rippel’s nephew, Julius A. Rippel. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth and a successful investment banker, Mr. Rippel became President of the Foundation in 1953. Over the next 30 years Mr. Rippel would set the tone for what the Foundation would become. Identifying “private foundation money as a precious and limited and very special national asset,” he believed foundations should be “pioneers … [who]… have the courage to take initiative,” in response to “changes in modern life.” He also came to understand the limited capacity of our health care system to treat sickness and the overwhelming importance of preventative care. In the mid 1960’s, Mr. Rippel foresaw that America was creating an unsustainable health care system. He advised that a sustainable system must come from simultaneously improving population health and fundamentally redesigning how we deliver care. He advocated a “health” system, not a “sick care” system, and offered solutions that embraced changes in care delivery, wellness, medical education, leadership, care coordination, alternative medicine and more. As a result, he became an early advocate of system-wide change. In 1980, a few years before his retirement in 1983, Mr. Rippel wrote, “It seems clear that we have been living in a period of excesses which cannot continue unabated. One thing seems inescapable. Some persons will suffer from what is ahead – in spite of all our social and political concern. The major problem will be to restrict the damage done to our entire population.”
Decades later, our nation is asking many of the same questions and having similar conversations about a broken health care system. J. S. and Fannie Rippel would heartily disapprove of a system that spends twice as much per person on health care yet achieves far worse outcomes than other industrialized nations. With a focus on strategically investing limited resources to seed innovation, catalyze change, and create model processes that will lead to improvements in health, the Foundation recognizes the intent of its donor, the values of its leaders, and the current health issues related to cancer, heart disease, women, the elderly, and hospitals. Like Mr. Rippel, the Trustees understand that major advances will require substantially new ways of thinking. With our motto, “Seeding Innovations in Health,” the Foundation embraces its history while recognizing the need to think and act differently as we help to create a better health system.