‘I think people do things in life because of their experiences’
Sean Mummert started small, with red wrist bands that nurses could scan to read everything they needed to know about patients. The bands used direct thermal printing to keep private health information off a printer ribbon, and Mummert’s team sold the idea to MUSC as a safe and secure improvement.
His company, The Office People, moved into flashier services from there, helping to launch interactive displays around MUSC’s campus -- everything from screens on employee transport buses to dynamic visuals that could honor donors to various campaigns.
When MUSC teamed up with the city of Charleston and its neighbor health-care campuses – Roper Hospital and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center – to move forward with the Medical District Greenway, Mummert saw an opportunity to get involved not as an entrepreneur but as a philanthropist.
He recently pledged $150,000 over five years to support the project. “I think people do things in life because of their experiences,” he said.
For Mummert, those experiences include time with one of his daughters in MUSC’s emergency care to address breathing problems and an impromptu trip to the hospital with his late mother during her cancer treatment. Her room overlooked the water, and the view made a marked difference in her experience.
“When you’re enclosed in an area like a hospital, there’s always a significant level of stress, Mummert said. “For someone with terminal illness, or those battling a diagnosis, the green space is a way for them to escape and be surrounded by nature’s beauty. My mom loved flowers, birds and butterflies. I believe she would found have comfort, peace and joy had she been at a facility with a greenway such as this project.“
Mummert grew up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania, the son of an electrician and a nurse. He studied economics at Pennsylvania State University and went on to work as a corporate executive for an information technology provider. When he and his wife started a family, he knew he wanted to spend more time at home, so he purchased an office supply company called Advanced Cartridge Tech in 2004.
Soon after, a friend and fellow businessman told Mummert, “I didn’t know you sold office furniture, because your name doesn’t say who you are.” Mummert knew it was time to rebrand, to move away from the idea of ink-jet printers, so he called his company The Office People.
The North Charleston-based business provides everything from office interiors to graphic design, managed print services, audio/visual technology solutions and even a state-of-the-art water filtration system that takes air, purifies it and illuminates it with germ-killing ultraviolet light to produce clean, sustainable drinking water.
Mummert envisions bringing his work onto the Medical District Greenway with in-kind contributions, including a 100-gallon water cooler and interactive screens to connect people with news and events on campus while they enjoy time outside.
MUSC Vice President of Development and Alumni Affairs Jim Fisher said the Medical District Greenway presents a natural partnership with Mummert.
“This project just fits with Sean’s history with us,” Fisher said. “Since MUSC began its relationship with The Office People, we’ve made little tweaks that have improved the overall experience on campus for our patients and employees alike. The Medical District Greenway takes that idea to another level by offering a respite from the hospital setting, and Sean’s gift helps to propel us forward in a big way.”
The greenway project launched its first phase in November, when Doughty Street closed to vehicles between President and Ehrhardt streets, replacing roadway with café seating and green-painted asphalt to symbolize the grass to be planted later. In the coming years, traffic-calming initiatives on Courtenay Street will make the area more pedestrian-friendly, with the goal of easier access to the medical district, Alberta Sottile Long Lake, Colonial Lake and the Battery.
Mummert made his gift not only for people traveling to the hospital but for those already on campus.
“We’ve all been in the hospital as patients or visitors and know how important it is to get some fresh air and be surrounded by nature,” he said. “This project is more than just a pretty space in the middle of the medical district. I have no doubt that it will improve health and positively impact patients during their hospital stay.”