Albert Lepage poses at Tulane University, his alma mater. Lepage donated $12.5 million to Tulane’s business school in 2015. This week, St. Mary’s Health System announced he’s donating $10 million to the hospital system to improve the patient experience. (Rick Olivier and Tulane University)
LEWISTON — The Albert Lepage Foundation will donate $10 million to St. Mary’s Health System, making it the largest donation in the hospital system’s history.
The money will go to establish the Albert Lepage Center for Patient Experience.
In a statement released Monday, Lepage said he’s making the donation because he cares deeply about St. Mary’s and its mission.
“The Androscoggin County community has greatly benefited from St. Mary’s expertise and compassion,” he said. “I’m confident the new center will position St. Mary’s to lead the industry in ensuring a patient’s experience is exceptional.”
The money will be used to improve the way patients and their families interact with St. Mary’s — for example, by creating comfortable, low-stress waiting areas with free coffee, Wi-Fi and live soothing music or by creating an app that helps patients locate their new doctor’s office and view a video of that doctor talking about his or her expertise.
“You’ve got that real, personalized experience for the patient and the patient really feels comfortable and welcomed and can access care easily,” said J. Bradford Coffey, president of St. Mary’s Health System Foundation. “It’s providing exceptional service.”
The money cannot be used to construct buildings or add infrastructure.
“He wants programming. He wants services,” Coffey said.
The donation is a planned gift, which means the money will be given over a number of years. The Albert Lepage Foundation will provide $250,000 a year through Lepage’s lifetime. Upon his death, the remainder of the $10 million will go to St. Mary’s.
Part of each donation will be placed in an endowment for continued patient experience work.
This is not Lepage’s first large gift.
In 2007, he donated money to Tulane University in Louisiana, his alma mater, to establish the Albert R. Lepage Professorship in Business to focus on entrepreneurship. In 2015, he donated $12.5 million to Tulane’s A. B. Freeman School of Business to create the Albert Lepage Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
In 2016, he gave $10 million to Hebron Academy to finish renovations to the Albert Lepage Center for the Arts and to establish the Albert Lepage Center for Diversity at the school.
He’s also given a number of donations to St. Mary’s.
“He’s been really generous,” Coffey said. “He’s made six-figure gifts to support, I think, most of the capital campaigns over the last 20 years at the hospital. He’s been one of the lead donors to each of those campaigns.”
His donations helped establish the Regis A. Lepage Surgical Pavilion, the F.R. Lepage Conference Center and the Corinne Croteau Lepage Women’s Health Pavilion at St. Mary’s.
Lepage is the former president of Lepage Bakeries in Lewiston, which produces Country Kitchen and Barowsky’s breads. Flowers Foods bought the bakery for $370 million in 2012.