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How Saint Luke's Foundation Has Pivoted to Respond to COVID-19

Paul Fleming
Published:  05/19/2020

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"There is a lot we can be doing to help our health systems… and a lot we can do to help people in our communities feel they are helping in this crisis."

Michael VanDerhoef, CEO of Saint Luke's Foundation in Kansas City, MO, shared these encouraging and uplifting words, as well as several strategies his team is using in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Similar to the MedStar Health team, Saint Luke's have pivoted to work with local foundations, current major donors and their Board, and have increased their focus on leveraging technology to remain nimble and increase donations for combating Covid-19.

Here are the four ideas the Saint Luke's team developed:

  1. Saint Luke's used targeted outreach to leading foundations in Kansas City and raised more than $1.5 million over a three-week period for Covid-19 preparation and response. This support includes funding for renovations to expand ICU capabilities, the purchase of critical care equipment, and even expansion of telehealth to help them monitor at-risk and vulnerable patients while keeping them safe at home rather than in the hospitals.
  2. In addition to prioritizing outreach to local foundations, Saint Luke's has reengaged major donors who they had been cultivating for other large requests and priorities, instead asking them to consider helping to fund purchases of PPE, ventilators and Lucas devices. This approach has seen some success as these items are reasonably priced and can be bundled incrementally according to a donor’s ability and interest. And because PPE and life-saving medical devices are on the news every evening, these solicitations require little cultivation or additional information.
  3. Saint Luke's has used their network of Board members and donors to source manufacturing of safety devices such as aerosol boxes to protect their caregivers when they need to intubate a patient. They put out a call to local industry and within two hours they had eight companies willing to produce prototypes, and within three days they had a dozen boxes distributed throughout all of their hospitals to begin using.
  4. The team posted on their website ways people can help, both financially and with supplies, either donated or by sewing new masks. A portion of the team coordinated more than 1,200 volunteers sewing masks from sterile material, and at present they have distributed material sufficient to make 50,000 masks. They are also holding drop-off events for people to donate N95 masks, gloves, safety glasses and goggles, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and other PPE. They have received great response from local business and individuals, including one business donating 40,000 gloves, and another donating 45 crates of hand sanitizer.

Through tapping into current resources and strategies, and strategically repurposing or refocusing, St. Luke's has given its community and donors opportunities to make a difference, and it has opened up countless new relationships with people who had some experience with St. Luke’s but had not yet engaged as donors.

Thank you to Michael and his team for allowing us to share these strategies in the hopes that they will enable other philanthropy teams as they support 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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