John S.T. Gallagher passed away peacefully at his home in Palm Beach on Saturday, April 18. He was born on Dec. 9, 1931, in Jackson Heights, to Mercedes Wright Gallagher and Thomas Gallagher, Sr. He attended Xavier High School and graduated with a BS in business administration from Holy Cross College and a masters of science, epidemiology and public health from Yale University. As a great visionary with a caring heart, he embarked on his career in the health care industry and, as he would say, “gave birth” to the North Shore Health System.
Ultimately, as Chief Executive of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, John Gallagher did more than any single individual to mold the Long Island hospital market, as referenced in the Newsday article “100 Who Shaped a Century.”
After changing careers in his 30s, leaving the family tire business to study public health at Yale University, the Queens native had been driven by a vision of a superior health care system that would not only survive the assault of profit-driven managed care companies but thrive and deliver charity care to the poor as well.
Gallagher, a workaholic with an affable nature, joined the administrative staff at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset in 1963 as an intern. He was appointed Executive Vice President in 1982.
In the 1990s, when managed care started making inroads into New York, Gallagher began hatching a plan to develop an integrated health care system, joining multiple hospitals and care facilities that could span a broad geographic area, achieve economies of scale and, most important, be able to exercise muscle in rate negotiations with insurance companies and HMOs.
More recently, he merged the North Shore Health System with the Long Island Jewish Medical Center to create the North Shore-LIJ Health System, a powerhouse of 18 hospitals and numerous outpatient centers that stretches from Suffolk to Staten Island. It is no exaggeration to say that Jack Gallagher’s vision is one of the reasons that the North Shore-LIJ Health System exists today.
After his retirement, he remained active, serving on many boards. When Jack was not playing the piano or painting, he would be on the water enjoying his boat.
He is survived by his wife, Aileen O’Halloran Gallagher; six children: John, Grace, Robert, Louise, Thomas and Paul, seven step- children, 27 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
For his friendship, for his wisdom, for his deep sense of caring, he will be missed.
Visitation will be at Oyster Bay Funeral Home on Thursday, April 23 from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., www.oysterbayfuneralhome.com. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Gertrude RC Church in Bayville on Friday, April 24 at 10 a.m. Interment is private.