Children of Paul A. Tanker remember their father’s giving spirit
Paul A. Tanker was never one to shy away from a challenge or to stifle his opinion. A man of few but very poignant words, he left an indelible mark on many institutions and causes across the Philadelphia region. One institution very near and dear to his heart was MossRehab, the renowned physical and cognitive rehabilitation arm of Einstein Healthcare Network.
For more than 40 years, Paul worked tirelessly to help advance the mission of MossRehab. Many of those years were spent serving as a member of the MossRehab Board of Directors. When he passed away in 2013, his children decided the most fitting tribute to their father would be to continue his legacy of giving to MossRehab, specifically supporting efforts to enhance the institution’s leadership in rehabilitative technology.
“My father was very interested in the technology of medicine,” recalls Mark S. Tanker, DO, Paul’s son and a gastroenterologist with Einstein Healthcare Network. “MossRehab is at the forefront of research in using technology to assist patients with rehabilitation. My brothers, Richard and Scott, and my sister, Joanne, all agreed that the most fitting tribute to our father would be to support something that he was very passionate about. MossRehab was the perfect and obvious choice.”
Dr. Tanker remembers his grandmother was treated at MossRehab after a stroke in the late 1970s. This was the beginning of his father’s involvement.
“Personal experience led to his commitment to the institution,” he says. “My mother was also cared for at MossRehab.”
As a member of the Board of Directors, Paul helped to raise over $1 million for the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI) and its efforts to improve the lives of individuals with neurological disabilities through research.
Part of Paul’s legacy is his efforts to foster the spirit of giving back within his family.
“I can still remember when my father decided the family would give money to build the Tanker Family Canteen at MossRehab. He really meant the whole family would participate. Each of us was encouraged to actively take part,” Dr. Tanker recalls. “His capacity for giving back was limitless. He wanted to instill that in his children and grandchildren.”
But Paul did more than provide financial support—he gave of his time and talent to ensure MossRehab excelled in its mission of providing world-class care. He was also committed to forwarding research and education activities to serve the community of individuals who have disabilities.
“I first met Mr. Tanker about a dozen years ago and immediately knew him to be a solid citizen who devoted his time to giving very relevant advice to both clinical and administrative staff,” recalls Alberto Esquenazi, MD, The John Otto Haas Chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Chief Medical Officer for MossRehab. “He helped provide invaluable perspectives on how we can better serve our patients’ needs.”
Paul Tanker understood maximizing excellence in care also means advocating for patients. Dr. Esquenazi remembers Paul was, “very interested in understanding how we can open doors and encourage our patients to improve their quality of life. He was always challenging us to look at ways to enhance care for our patients. His encouragement and guidance were invaluable.”
Paul’s history of involvement and commitment to MossRehab solidified the Tanker Family’s decision to make a gift in their father’s name to MossRehab. Dr. Tanker and his siblings, Richard, Joanne and Scott, collaborated to fund one of MossRehab’s robotic devices, the Lokomat®.
“The Lokomat is the first commercial robotic walker system designed to aid patients who are learning to walk again after spinal cord, stroke or brain injury,” explains Dr. Esquenazi. “The device has a robotic exoskeleton that attaches to the patient’s legs with a supportive harness holding the body up. The robotic component moves the patient’s legs in a walking motion on a treadmill providing the repetitions needed to help retrain patients to walk again.”
“My father would have been very enthusiastic about this piece of equipment,” relates Dr. Tanker. “He was a real technology buff. As we were contemplating the gift, we visited the therapy areas. This piece of equipment was especially appealing, and not just for the impact it can have on patients, but for the research aspect as well.”
Like the family patriarch, Paul Tanker’s children want to encourage MossRehab patients and caregivers to excel. Their intent is to continue to support MossRehab in their father’s name.
“We want to continue to honor our father and carry on the tradition he began. We feel very blessed and fortunate to have the opportunity to continue his legacy. I know he would be proud and approve.”
For more information about making a tribute gift honoring someone in your life, please contact Ariel Belli at (215) 456-6211 or Belliari@einstein.edu.
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