For close to two years, Charles Herwegh was diligent about getting to his appointments at Chester County Hospital's Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center. Once or twice a week, he arrived for treatment for the ulcer on his leg. The Wound Care employees recall he was always on time, and he always wore his plaid hat. He was occasionally grumpy, but they could usually get him to smile, and he was appreciative of their care and effort.
The last few years of Mr. Herwegh's life were difficult. In his late 80s, his routine became very limited because of his health. He was still mentally sharp, but his body often would not cooperate, making it hard for a man who was so independent. Simple things that once filled his day, such as tending to his garden, became difficult, if not impossible. Visits to his doctors, to Chester County Hospital, and to Wound Care became more frequent. And, with these frequent visits came the bills.
Having spent his teenage years living through the Great Depression, Mr. Herwegh learned lessons about the importance of frugality and saving that lasted a lifetime. Living in the same house in West Chester, PA most of his life, he eschewed many modern household items; few upgrades had been made to his house since 1930. However, he was diligent about paying his bills. When he was unable to pay the entire balance of his bill for Hospital services after insurance payments, he contacted Chester County Hospital's patient billing office. They qualified Mr. Herwegh for Chester County Hospital's charity care program and enrolled him in a manageable monthly payment plan.
Mr. Herwegh made his payments on a regular basis until his passing in January 2008, after which Mr. Herwegh's friend and estate executor, Paul Stevens, fulfilled the balance of the bill. Six months later, an unexpected letter arrived at the Hospital's Foundation office. Mr. Herwegh had left nearly his entire estate, consisting mainly of his house and antique clock collection, to The Chester County Hospital Foundation. Mr. Stevens recalls that when Mr. Herwegh was getting ready to write his will, he included Chester County Hospital "because they treated me decent."
We never had the chance to thank Mr. Herwegh for his gift while he was alive, and perhaps that is how he intended it to be. A man who grew up in the depression may have been uncomfortable with the attention his gift would surely bring. But, the impact of his generosity and the message it sends about Mr. Herwegh and what was important to him, will be remembered for many years to come.
The Chester County Hospital Foundation is grateful to Mr. Herwegh and all the individuals who have included the Foundation in their estate plans and recognizes them through membership in The 1892 Society.