Pandemic Invigorates Long-standing Tradition of Community Generosity to University Hospitals in Cleveland

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2021 was a record year in financial support for our mission

UH Clinical Update | February 2022

By Cliff A. Megerian, MD, FACS, UH Chief Executive Officer and the Jane and Henry Meyer Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair

Philanthropy is woven into the fabric of our community, with a long history in Cleveland and here at University Hospitals.

In 1830, when Cleveland was merely a port city with about 1,000 residents, its first relief agency was founded by donors to provide food and shelter to sailors. Just 36 years later, Lakeside Hospital opened to provide medical care to Civil War refugees, an effort to care for the needy that evolved into University Hospitals.

Whether a donor is of modest means or of comfortable wealth, helping others seems to be part of Cleveland’s DNA, and that of UH as well.

So perhaps it is not surprising that in 2021, while the COVID-19 pandemic was in its full throes, University Hospitals had its best year of philanthropic support, with more than $200 million raised.

Because of the pandemic, health care was fully in the public eye, and so was the strain endured and the stamina and compassion displayed by you, our care providers. UH and its medical experts were on the news nearly every day, so Clevelanders knew the intensity involved in caring for our patients.

Our caregivers’ efforts were – and are – being recognized at a level never before seen in UH history. It is no coincidence that this moment in time, which has fully displayed our clinicians’ dedication to their vocation, is also a time of unprecedented community giving. Our patients, families and friends see your commitment and are inspired to give back.

And this applies to all UH caregivers, because they all connect to patients, their families and visitors – whether they are surgeons and nurses, schedulers, valets, and environmental services workers, to name just a few. All of them impact the lives of our patients, either directly or indirectly.

We take our responsibility as a hometown health care provider seriously. Through the COVID-19 surges and while facing unprecedented staffing shortages, you - our amazingly talented team of caregivers – continue to provide compassionate and equitable care. This unflinching commitment to serve is truly inspiring and our community responded in kind, contributing financially in support of the UH mission.

It is a point of pride that gifts of all sizes are given to benefit that mission, which has a powerful impact on patients and families throughout the region. Examples abound, such as the 19th Annual Rainbow Radiothon, during which more than $256,000 in donations were received, directly benefitting UH Rainbow's young patients and the dedicated staff who care for them; and The Kendall Foundation’s efforts to raise $57,000 to further the expansion of cancer services at UH Conneaut Medical Center, a gift that was then matched by three local families, bringing the total to an incredible $107,000.

Additional examples of generosity and compassion in 2021 included the creation of 16 new endowed positions, furthering UH’s efforts to recruit and retain our very deserving caregivers; nearly $20 million in contributions to advance the UH Ahuja Phase 2 expansion; more than $50 million in external support for research and innovation, enabling the development of life-saving drugs and groundbreaking clinical trials; and funding for departments, programs and services across the health system, such as nursing, clinical trials and integrative medicine.

UH was founded by and for this community and, for more than 155 years – in times of joy and struggle, good health and deep pain – the exceptional generosity of this community has sustained us.

The last two years have placed unforeseen strain on our health system and our caregivers, but this did not go unnoticed. In unprecedented fashion, the community has conveyed its abiding faith in our mission.

It remains our great honor to serve this region. I am grateful to all those who entrust us with their care, and to all of you, who provide it not only for the patients we have today, but for all those who will come to us for care in the decades to come.

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