By James Osborne and Craig R. McCoy, Inquirer Staff Writers

In a city synonymous with failure, Cooper University Hospital is the grand exception.

Politically connected firms have won millions of dollars in hospital-related contracts.

Cooper’s new glass and metal pavilion rises 10 stories over downtown Camden. It cost $220 million.

The first class at its new $140 million medical school starts this summer. Nearby, rehabbed rowhouses on cobblestone streets create an oasis amid Camden’s burned-out buildings.

Behind it all is hospital board chairman George E. Norcross III, the insurance magnate who is now promoting Cooper with the same relentless focus that has made him very wealthy and arguably the top Democratic boss in New Jersey.

Born at Cooper, Norcross is unabashed in his enthusiasm for the hospital that he sees as performing vital medical, economic, and social roles. He also sees it as crucial to the rebirth of the city.


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