Health care "is finally heading in the right direction, where people are looking for value," Pepper said. "I've been looking for that change almost all my career, so I'm quite eager to bring it on."
During tumultuous years in which other hospitals in Chester County joined health-care systems or turned for-profit, Pepper's hospital remained independent and nonprofit. He said that made it harder to negotiate with insurance companies, but kept the hospital more nimble and able to focus firmly on its community.
The hospital did develop clinical affiliations with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Cleveland Clinic, and Penn Medicine.
Pepper, whose full name - Harris Laning Perry Pepper - pays homage to relatives on both sides, is descended from four generations of University of Pennsylvania doctors. He considered becoming one himself, but too long after he should have started studying the foundational sciences. A Penn graduate, he got an MBA in health economics at the Wharton School instead. He was assistant director at what is now Penn Presbyterian Medical Center before the last Chester County Hospital CEO recruited him.
The bow ties stem from a year when he flirted with the idea of becoming a psychiatrist and worked in a mental hospital. They were more sanitary than regular ties and harder for patients to grab.
Kevin Holleran, a lawyer who chairs the Chester County Hospital Foundation Board, said Pepper is a popular leader with "exquisite" judgment. For example, Holleran said, he was quick to see the value of computers. "Perry isn't a geek, but he was, in my opinion, way ahead of the curve on the computer stuff."
Ken Braithwaite, regional executive of Delaware Valley Healthcare Council of HAP, praised Pepper, a past chair of regional and state hospital associations, as a leader in his profession. "So many of us in health care have benefited immeasurably from Perry's generosity, wisdom, and experience," he said.
Pepper, crediting the people at Chester County Hospital for keeping him engaged in his work for so long, said he will find new projects. "I can't come home for lunch, that's for sure," he said.
Contact staff writer Stacey Burling at 215-854-4944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.