By Emily Williams
With success comes great responsibility, in the eyes of Edward K. Aldag Jr., chairman, president and CEO and president of Medical Properties Trust.
For Aldag, the pandemic has become a time to double-up on his efforts to support others.
“We try to do it quietly, just because it is the right thing to do, but we have more than doubled our efforts this year for all of our charities,” he said.
Medical Properties Trust hasn’t suffered in the same way many other companies and organizations have during this pandemic. The company own hospitals all over the world.
“We actually own the largest number of hospitals outside of governmental entities,” he said. “We’re somewhere around 400 hospitals.
“We did very well and continue to do very well during the pandemic. We never suffered from the cash flow issues that so many people are suffering from.”
Aldag and the company as a whole have made a concerted effort to pour some of that good fortune back into the Birmingham community where it is most desperately needed: philanthropic organizations.
“Part of our philosophy, from the very beginning when we started this company, is that if we do well, we are going to be sure we give back,” Aldag said.
The Medical Properties Trust name can be seen sponsoring a variety of fundraising efforts throughout the community, but Mitchell’s Place holds a special place in Aldag’s heart.
It’s rooted in his love for children. This year is the organization’s 15th anniversary, and Aldag has been along for much of that ride.
Before moving to Mountain Brook about 16 years ago, Aldag’s three children attended The Montgomery Academy. It wasn’t a place where his kids interacted with children who had special needs in the classroom.
“When we moved to Mountain Brook, our youngest was in third grade, our oldest was in eighth grade and our son was in fifth grade,” he said.
It was the first time his children had experience with a school system that mainstreamed its students with special needs.
“It was the most wonderful experience for my children, and I hope my children were able to provide wonderful experiences for those kids as well,” he said.
Children Brought Them Together
Aldag and Mitchell’s Place founders Allen and Nancy Meisler first met through their children. His oldest daughter was close friends with their daughter, and his son was in the same grade as their son Mitchell.
As Aldag’s son and Mitchell became close friends, his own relationship with the Meislers grew.
“While I have always loved children and they have always held a special place in my heart, seeing how my children interacted with children with special needs really led me to Mitchell’s Place.”
The namesake of Mitchell’s Place, Mitchell was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and inspired his parents to create their multi-disciplinary facility, which provides diagnostic services, treatment and education to children with autism spectrum disorder as well as neurotypical peers while providing family and community support.
Later on, when the Meislers were looking to take Mitchell’s Place to a new level of growth, Aldag said he was one of the people they reached out to. “I just fell in love with it,” he said.
According to Aldag, if you have a true love of all children, it’s difficult to remain uninvolved in those community organizations that support the success of children with special needs.
“Some of my favorite times are either graduation or the Christmastime, when I get to see the kids and visit with the kids,” he said.
‘Quit Worrying About Money’
When the pandemic struck and Mitchell’s Place was hit hard, Aldag said, it was a time to take immediate action.
The most important hurdle to tackle was how to keep their services running safely.
“I called Sara Nall (Mitchell’s Place executive director) and Allen and told them to quit worrying about money,” he said. “Here is a check, and we will all get through this together.”
There wasn’t a second thought.
“When you are fortunate like we have been to do very well, giving back is so very important to our community,” he said. “We had the ability to stand up and do it, so we did.
“We have had a lot of charities, Mitchell’s Place being one of those, that were struggling,” he added. “These kids still needed a place, and these families still needed a place for their kids. So, we had the ability, the wherewithal and the love for Mitchell’s Place.”