Published on June 06, 2013

Miss USA Helps Launch Genesis Philanthropy

A new and innovative approach to improving region’s health

  • Miss USA Nana Meriwether helped launch Genesis Philanthropy, a new fundraising and grants initiative devoted entirely to improving population health, at a May 30 news conference at Genesis Physical Therapy and Sports Rehabilitation in Davenport.
  • While in the Quad Cities, the two-time NCAA Division I All-American in volleyball for UCLA visited with and tested her volleyball skills against members of the Davenport Central High School team.
  • Announcing Genesis Philanthropy, a new and innovative approach to improving health in the region, are Missy Gowey, Executive Director of the Genesis Health Services Foundation, and Jim Victor, Chair of the Board of Directors for Genesis Philanthropy.

It’s a daunting fact about the nation’s health care: Nearly 5 percent of the patients with chronic health conditions consume 50-60 percent of all health care resources.

But what would happen if those patients had more help preventing or managing diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease? What if they had earlier intervention and were armed with strategies to help them live well and live longer? And best of all, what if these diseases could be prevented in the first place?

That’s the aim of Genesis Philanthropy, a new fundraising and grants initiative devoted entirely to improving the community health of the Quad Cities region. By leveraging the power of philanthropy, Genesis will take the next step in the health care revolution -- expanding its focus from caring for sick people to improving the health and wellness of the community.

The not-for-profit organization was announced May 30 at a news conference featuring 2012 Miss USA Nana Meriwether. Meriwether has taken on the challenge of improving the nation’s health through her appearances all over the country and is co-founder of the Meriwether Foundation to promote population health initiatives on a global scale.

Philanthropy for wellness

“Genesis Philanthropy is all about people,” said Jim Victor, who chairs the board of directors for Genesis Philanthropy. “Every one of us knows someone whose life has ended too soon. Every one of us knows someone who has been diagnosed too late with chronic disease.

“Through Genesis Philanthropy, we have an opportunity to discover illness earlier, discover cancer and pre-diabetes earlier, so that our families, our relatives, our neighbors can live longer. It’s all about population health and wellness.”

Since their inception, the foundations supporting Genesis hospitals in Davenport, DeWitt, Silvis and Aledo have focused their services within the walls of those hospitals. Genesis Philanthropy will extend services outside hospital walls, said Missy Gowey, Executive Director of the Genesis Health Services Foundation.

“The foundations serving Genesis now will be collaborating on those larger health issues that have become problematic across the nation and certainly in our own backyard,” Gowey said. “We know heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes are among the most common and the most preventable of all health problems in the U.S. We know that one-third of the adults in the U.S. are obese; another third of those adults are overweight. We know this leads to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

“We’re launching an innovative and philanthropic arm of Genesis Health System. We’re not waiting for those health care crises to resolve themselves. We’re marching forward and unleashing the power of philanthropy to change course.”

Transformational change in health care delivery

Genesis is undergoing transformational change in the way it cares for patients and the broader community. More Genesis resources are being allocated to address the region’s most critical health issues and to reduce the rate of preventable health conditions.

That’s also what Nana Meriwether is striving to do with her own foundation, located in five countries in southern Africa.

“I’m so proud to be with an organization who values what I value,” Meriwether said of Genesis and its “progressive and aggressive” focus on illness prevention. “I think Genesis has a great thing going. Regionally, it’s going to be infectious. It’s going to spread nationally. I’m proud to be part of this movement and to be a voice that will help.”

Meriwether’s entire lifes story speaks to health and wellness. She was born in South Africa while her parents were serving as volunteers.

She is the daughter of a physician and an attorney. Her father, Delano, was the first African-American in Duke Medical School. An accomplished athlete, the 6-foot-1 Nana Meriwether was a two-time NCAA Division I All-American in volleyball for UCLA.

“From a very early age, my father taught me the value of staying healthy. It stuck with me and inspired me,” Meriwether said. “Sports, too, have taught me the value of staying healthy. I couldn’t have spent time at the most accomplished athletic school in the nation if I didn’t learn to take care of myself.”

Quest for community wellness

Philanthropists, foundations and corporations will be catalysts in the quest for community wellness via their investment in Genesis Philanthropy.

“Our goal is to actively engage the population in the QC region to help them improve their health,’’ said Doug Cropper, Genesis Health System President and CEO. “Our strategy is to work with a defined group of people to intervene earlier, coordinate care better, and help them manage their chronic diseases and serious health problems.”

The initiative mirrors Genesis Health System’s focus on population health.

The current Genesis foundations -- DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation, Genesis Health Services Foundation, and the Mercer Foundation for Health -- will manage the grants and track the results of the Genesis Philanthropy initiatives. They will also seek out partners for collaboration, such as schools or the local YMCA, to ensure no duplication of services.

The foundations will be linked to Genesis Philanthropy and to one another for implementing population health strategies throughout the region. They remain, however, distinct foundations and will continue to raise funds locally to invest in their facility and community health needs.

“Each of these foundations will continue to have a primary responsibility for caring for the facilities under their direction,” Victor said. “Genesis Philanthropy will not be facility focused. It’s uniquely about people and making lives better. It’s uniquely about initiatives for wellness and population health, the discovering of disease and having people live longer.”

Learn more

To learn more about the regional impact of a charitable investment in Genesis Philanthropy, contact Missy Gowey, Executive Director, (563) 421-6860.

First gift aimed at lung cancer screenings

The first gift to Genesis Philanthropy is $1 million from the Gene and JoAnn Waddell Regional Fund for Hospice and Cancer Care.

A portion of this significant gift will be awarded for population health initiatives, such as cancer screenings, and the first initiative will be targeted at lung cancer.

“We’ve been talking with cancer experts throughout Genesis, and they identified lung cancer as an area of great opportunity because so often the individuals who come to us for treatment of lung cancer have an advanced stage,” said Missy Gowey, Executive Director of the Genesis Health Services Foundation.

The gift will help people understand their risk for developing lung cancer and to help detect and prevent lung cancer among long-term smokers. A new analysis of a 2010 U.S. study recently found that low-dose CT scans pick up significantly more lung tumors than chest X-rays do.

“Genesis Philanthropy gives us an opportunity to ask 'What is the most pressing health care concern and why are we not as a region able to do more? How can we do this with a collective voice and one funding source?' We want to unite as a region and have people who live in any community served by Genesis affect this type of change.”

Affiliate Foundations

DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation
Genesis Foundation
Mercer Foundation for Health
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