Fostering a Culture of Caring –
Paul J. Cherney, M.D., and Claire E. Cherney
Paul and Claire Cherney call Abington Health a kind of family. It’s easy to see why these long-time health professionals and philanthropists feel that way.
Dr. Cherney joined Abington Memorial Hospital’s medical staff in 1955, served as senior pathologist and chairman of the Department of Pathology and, in 1979, was elected president of the medical, dental and podiatric staff. In 1997 the medical staff presented him with its prestigious Frobese Award for exceptional service on behalf of patients, and in 2001 he was named Abington’s Physician of the Year in recognition of his service to the hospital.
Claire joined Abington Memorial Hospital’s clinical laboratory staff in 1970, served as supervisor of the clinical chemistry lab and was active on numerous employee committees. In 1995 she was named to Abington’s Women’s Board, where she continues to be an inspirational leader with the Board and its auxiliaries.
Over the years, the Cherneys have also been significant philanthropists in support of Abington Health.
“We want to make sure Abington continues to excel,” says Claire. “It’s difficult to put into words how much we care about it.”
Devoted to Others
Dr. Cherney received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1949. He completed residencies in pathology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Detroit Receiving Hospital before beginning a career at Abington Memorial Hospital that spanned more than half a century until his retirement in 2009.
“I spent a lot of time with other doctors looking through two-headed microscopes and discussing care,” he says of his work at Abington. “I really enjoyed working to understand disease and the best way to approach it.”
Claire looks back fondly on her career at Abington as well.
“Supervising the clinical chemistry lab gave me the opportunity to work with a lot of smart and friendly people,” she recalls. “The culture at Abington was one of family, a place you wanted to be every day. It was also a culture of commitment to the forefront of innovation and technology.”
Healthcare innovation, she adds, “doesn’t just come by itself. It needs support. It deserves support.”
The Cherneys have been steadfast in their own support for Abington. They are annual donors at the President’s Council level, as well as generous donors to specific needs as they arise, such as recent appeals for the Diamond Stroke Center and the expansion of the Mary T. Sachs Breast Imaging Center.
Over the years Claire has also devoted extraordinary energy to supporting the hospital as a volunteer. An active member of the Women’s Board since 1995, she served as the Women’s Board representative on the hospital’s diversity advisory council, was chair of its medical staff auxiliary, served as the auxiliaries executive committee chair and continues to serve as a member of the medical staff auxiliary and the evening auxiliary. She has also chaired the June Fete Village Fair in 1998, served as co-chair of the Horse and Pony Show for many years and is the current chair of the Women’s Board house committee, where she works with nurse managers and department directors to make sure different areas of the hospital get what they need for patients and visitors.
“It is joyous,” she says of her involvement with the Women’s Board, “to work with so many wonderful women who care about Abington.”
Paul and Claire share deep Pennsylvania roots. Claire grew up in Philadelphia, where she received her clinical training at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital before coming to work at Abington Memorial Hospital. Paul grew up in the small coal-mining town of Forest City, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Scranton before entering medical school in Philadelphia.
Those roots, however, haven’t kept them from traveling the world. They’ve taken trips to Mexico, Italy, Ireland, France, Egypt, Ecuador, Australia, Aruba and elsewhere. Back in the 1960s, Paul sailed half-way around the world with Project HOPE on a medical tour of West Africa. In the 1970s the two of them joined with Project HOPE in Jamaica together, Paul as a pathologist and Claire as a medical technologist.
But every time they travel, notes Claire, they are happy to return home.
“We love this community,” she says, “and Abington Health is a big reason why. It has always been there for us – for births, deaths and everything along the way. It’s our distinct pleasure to help Abington Health stay strong.”