Doctoring an individual and then a system

Dr. Ruth Perry

As an emergency room physician in Philadelphia, Dr. Ruth Perry saw patients return often for minor ailments that just needed a doctor as well as for chronic illnesses like diabetes that weren’t managed effectively.

Twenty-five years later the same problems exist in city emergency rooms, but this time Dr. Perry is bringing about more holistic change. As executive director of the Trenton Health Team, she blends her physician background with corporate leadership experience to confront the health and wellness challenges of Trenton’s neediest residents and ensure better care.

“We hope to lead the nation in making innovative improvements in healthcare,” Dr. Perry said.
With a Bachelor’s Degree from Swarthmore College and Doctor of Medicine Degree from Temple University, Dr. Perry spent seven years working long hours at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. After the birth of two daughters, she left the hospital for the chemical manufacturing company Rohm and Haas, where she remained for more than 15 years, focusing on product safety, implementation of best practices and change management. She retired rather than relocate when the company was acquired by Dow Chemical, headquartered in Michigan, cared for her parents and then traveled before the opportunity arose at THT.

For Dr. Perry, being part of THT satisfied her desire to join the nonprofit sector and allowed her to put both her business and medical work. Since becoming executive director in April 2011, she established the organization’s infrastructure and implemented changes that have already begun to improve lives.

Outside of work, she is a gifted musician, photographer and gardener. She plans to use her music talent to help the Trenton community.  A classical pianist who also sings in the choir of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, Dr. Perry hopes to use the arts to engage the homeless. One of her ideas is to perform in soup kitchens.

Dr. Perry’s concern for her community and commitment to achieve better, more accountable health care are driving THT’s mission to become the healthiest city in the state.