Dream a Little Dream

Francis Forte, MD and Dizzy Gillespie met some twenty years ago. It was music and medicine that brought these two extraordinary human beings together and it’s the same combo that still intertwines them in spirit and practice today. The Dizzy Gillespie Institute at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center is the incredible result of a promise made between one of the most beloved jazz greats and the physician who was treating him for pancreatic cancer at the end of his life.


Dr. Francis Forte is a hematologist/oncologist. He’s also an accomplished jazz guitarist who plays professionally. Dizzy was his patient and, in 1993, the two men made a pact: Dizzy would give permission for the use of his name and the hospital would build a program that could provide free care to aging or needy jazz musicians, regardless of medical coverage. It was a last wish that Dr. Forte didn’t have to hear twice.


Since its founding in 1994 and in partnership with the NYC-based Jazz Foundation of America, The Dizzy Gillespie Institute at the hospital has provided millions of dollars of free treatment and services to more than 1000 jazz musicians who otherwise couldn’t have afforded care. A network of dozens of dedicated physicians, in a variety of specialties, provides pro bono services. The Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund is a 100% donor-supported fund and helps underwrite a small portion of associated costs. The health needs of jazz artists continue to grow and the hospital requires ongoing support to help fulfill its commitment to Dizzy’s dream and the jazz community. "


“Not one doctor can do it alone,” says Dr. Forte who is tireless in his determination to find answers and resources…no matter what the call. Cancer treatment, cardiac surgery, hip replacements, addiction counseling, social services…the range of cases has grown over the years. “People are not afraid to call,” beams Dr. Forte. “That makes me a happy guy!”


Dr. Forte is involved in every one of “Dizzy’s cases” and has treated hundreds of patients himself. He keeps a guitar in his office at the hospital. Maybe it’s to remind him of the first $12 steel-stringed Stella he bought as a kid … or to jog his memory of the first time he heard Django Reinhard play Gypsy jazz guitar…or just to riff every once in a while. But there it is, that harmonious mix of music and medicine that got The Dizzy Gillespie Institute started.


Donations may be made by check, payable to
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center Foundation,
350 Engle Street, Englewood, NJ 07631; or by credit card, by calling 201.894.3725.
Please indicate that you wish your donation to go to The Dizzy Gillespie Memorial Fund.