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How MedStar Health Has Pivoted to Respond to COVID-19

Paul Fleming
Published:  03/26/2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us all to think differently about how we support our hospitals through the work of philanthropy. Given the rapidly changing situation, one AHP member, MedStar Health, is pivoting to put more resources and time into engaging corporate donors, foundations, and trusts, all of whom are more focused on supporting the healthcare sector right now more than ever before.  

Bruce Bartoo, Chief Philanthropy Officer at MedStar Health, a 10-hospital system in the greater Washington, DC, area, and his leadership team convened last week to discuss ways the team could more effectively organize their work to align with this new focus. They came up with four initiatives that they are hoping will enable them to quickly respond to offers by foundations and others to help MedStar Health as it confronts the pandemic. 

Here are the four ideas the MedStar team came up with: 

  1. Put a team of two to three people together to identify a target list of foundations and trusts that MedStar Health should be approaching to begin conversations. They will be putting added focus on reviewing the CRM to see who has given in the past, even in the more distant past than you would normally look, since this situation is so unique. And even though they will focus on institutional donors, they also think it is important not to exclude individuals, as there are likely major philanthropists in the region that are willing to step up and be helpful in this time of crisis.

  2. Create a task force of two to three people to research and write material that can be used as common information for all requests and grant submissions to answer what MedStar Health is doing to confront the crisis, and what the healthcare sector is doing generally. The more effectively that the MedStar Health team can build a core case, highlighting how healthcare is the primary solution to this situation, and how MedStar Health is positioned to be successful, the easier and more streamlined it will be to provide key content that will go into requests.

  3. Identify a leader to think about who could be redeployed into a grant-writing/development capacity, understanding that the volume of opportunities MedStar Health chooses to take on will be much greater. Redeploying talent to work in a coordinated fashion will increase the capacity to pursue opportunities and respond to grant applications (the previously mentioned “common information” will also help expedite this process).

  4. Find a leader to think about the use of technology: the volume of e-visits with patients has expanded tenfold in the past week alone and could well continue to increase. MedStar Health patients are fortunate in that they are not charged for these e-visits. Are there partners that would be willing to provide this service for free in other communities? Is there a way through technology, for when a visit is concluded, that notes how the service was provided by MedStar Health so that those able will be encouraged to contribute to the continuation of this service for others in need? 

Bruce and his team were gracious enough to allow us to share these strategies in hopes that they will enable other philanthropy teams to assist the healthcare sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What strategies are being used by your organization? Would you like to be profiled in the hopes of furthering the goals and achievements of the healthcare philanthropy community during these trying times? If so, please reach out to paul@ahp.org

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Meet The Author

paul fleming
Paul Fleming
Director, Research and Insights
Association for Healthcare Philanthropy

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