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Personalities: A Taste for Giving

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Magazine, February 13, 2011
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Peter F. Bastone’s, MBA, DrPH, and MCHCM/Theology, interests have taken him to the football field, as a player for Princeton, to the white walls of Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach, CA, and last, into the kitchen. As president and CEO of the hospital, he’s found a new way to generate some extra revenue: auctioning off his cooking skills with meals that sell for as high as $12,000. The self-proclaimed “old-school Italian” also serves up free clinics and charity care for the community and donates 10% of the hospital’s bottom line to the underserved.

On how personal battles affected his career: I lost my dad, who was a homicide detective, at a young age. He tried to dignify each person he met and acknowledge whatever they’d been blessed with. I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I love whodunits, but he said, ‘No, get an education.’ Later, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 17 and I was out for a sport every season since. I even made the Princeton football team as a walk-on. The thing is that I had this medical history, and on the application to med school they asked if you had any diseases to determine if you’d be too much of a financial risk for a pricey med school education. I learned to outperform the norm and other applicants to prove that I was strong and not a risk.

On auctioning his cooking skills: I auction off my cooking a eight-course meal at the annual Mission Hospital Gala, and I think I’ve raised over $100,000 over the past four years for our hospital’s technology. I’m not a gourmet chef. We don’t call it red sauce—we call it red gravy; we’re old-school Chicago Italians. It’s a very southern Italian dinner, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Worry about the weight after you eat.

On his mission for Mission Hospital: My goal is to make Mission Hospital the most technologically advanced hospital in the world. I think we’ll see a lot more robotics and interventional diagnostic procedures in the future.

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