Patrick M. Growney, 80, of Villanova, a Main Line hematologist who helped start the Bryn Mawr Medical Specialists Association and who supported the creation of the Main Line Health system, died Sunday, Dec. 8, of a heart attack at home.
Board-certified in internal medicine, hematology, and medical oncology, Dr. Growney devoted his career to treating patients with blood and lymphatic diseases. Those included aplastic anemia, multiple myeloma, leukemia, lymphoma, and other forms of cancer.
He was known for showing great compassion to patients facing medical ordeals. But he also was something of a visionary about the future of medicine.
In 1969, after several years in solo practice, Dr. Growney saw the field was moving toward a team approach; he persuaded doctors in five other specialties to join him in forming the Bryn Mawr Medical Specialists Association.
The physicians bought land and constructed an office building at 933 Haverford Ave., Bryn Mawr.
"It was novel and bold to combine specialty practices during a time when physicians traditionally practiced separately," said Russ Militell, the association's CEO. The business now has 62 physicians.
Dr. Growney was also instrumental in providing medical coverage for the Rush Hospital for Consumption and Allied Diseases in Malvern. Rush Hospital had been founded in 1902 to treat patients with tuberculosis. In 1970, the hospital changed directions and merged with Bryn Mawr Hospital to become Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital.
In 1984, Dr. Growney supported the creation of Main Line Health, which initially included Bryn Mawr Hospital, Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital, and Lankenau Hospital. Paoli Memorial Hospital joined the health system in 1986.
Dr. Growney was born in New York City and grew up in Bergen County, N.J. At age 3, despite operations, he became blind in his right eye due to a congenital condition.
But he didn't let partial blindness stop him. He played sports in school and excelled during the summer in swimming, tennis, baseball, and wielding a yo-yo.
He graduated from Bergenfield High School, and then Princeton University in 1955.
He met his future wife of 57 years, Dorothy Carr Inglis, a student nurse, during a summer in Highland Lakes, N.J.
They were married in Brooklyn after Dr. Growney's second year at Georgetown University School of Medicine. The couple lived in Washington and had their first two children while Dr. Growney completed his postgraduate degree in medicine. He graduated from Georgetown in 1959.
Dr. Growney served a residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and completed a fellowship in hematology there.
The couple had their third child while living in Haddonfield. In 1964, Dr. Growney joined the staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital, where he served as chief of hematology for 34 years. The couple moved to Wynnewood and had a fourth child. The family later settled in Gladwyne.
Dr. Growney was elected president of Bryn Mawr Hospital's medical staff in 1987 and served as a trustee from 1987 to 1991. In the mid-1990s, Main Line Health teamed with Thomas Jefferson University to form the Jefferson Health System.
Dr. Growney retired from clinical practice in 1998. Throughout his career, he was beloved by colleagues, staff, patients, and their families.
"He was regarded as a quintessential gentleman, a brilliant clinician, and a warm and understanding caregiver," his family said in a tribute.
Outside the hospital, Dr. Growney enjoyed playing golf. He loved gardening, traveling, writing children's stories, poetry, crossword puzzles, sketching, painting, photography, and a good game of poker.
He was a supporter of the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association and helped raise money to bolster the growth of the sport in Philadelphia and beyond.
In 2000, he moved in with a family member in Villanova. He remarked at his 50th reunion at Princeton: "Isn't this life the greatest, or what?"
Surviving, in addition to his wife, are sons Scott and Steven R.; daughters Patrice Growney Aitken and Dorothy "Doss" Masterson; nine grandchildren; and a sister.
A memorial service was to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at St. David's Episcopal Church, 763 S. Valley Forge Rd., Wayne. Interment is private.
Contributions may be made to the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association, 107 Steinbright Dr., Collegeville, Pa. 19426.