Philanthropy is a game-changer — one that helps Baptist Health deliver the highest quality healthcare to over a million patients each year. “Our mission is to inspire philanthropy and build extraordinary donor relationships in support of excellence, innovation, community wellness and global leadership in healthcare at Baptist Health South Florida,” says Baptist Health Foundation CEO Alexandra Villoch. “There are countless ways generosity can make a very real difference in ensuring our community has access to the very best in healthcare in their own community. It was the driving force behind our decision to build Miami Cancer Institute, a world-class comprehensive cancer center, because treatment can take weeks, and that’s weeks away from your family and their support. Now more than ever, having access to the very best in healthcare, without needing to fly out and be away from home, is critical.”
Other life-changing projects funded by the Foundation’s generous and visionary donors includes purchasing cameras for the neonatal intensive care unit, so parents and family members are able to view their infant in real-time 24/7 via NICView, a small and secure camera focused directly on their baby. Many times, infants in the unit are there for months at a time. These cameras allow their loved ones to look in on them via any WiFi-based device, even when they cannot be at their bedside. Last year, there were over 130,000 logins by parents, grandparents, family and friends.
On another front, the Foundation is taking sports medicine to the community through the Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute’s Youth Athletic Outreach Program, which provides a doctor at every high school football game, and as well as free baseline concussion testing for all high school athletes. Last year, over 4,500 student athletes received free physical exams through this program.
Adds Villoch: “Due to the philanthropic spirit and loyalty of the Marathon/Middle Keys community, after Hurricane Irma wiped Fishermen’s Hospital off the map, we have also been able to rebuild the hospital, investing over $43M — of which the community is raising $15M toward the total costs,” she says. The all-new hospital is now under construction, and will provide critical care access to the community, including providing chemotherapy infusions, imaging and much more.
The Foundation is also helping run over 200 clinical trials at Miami Cancer Institute. “Research and clinical trials are at the heart of all medical innovations and treatments, and never has this become so critical now that COVID-19 has impacted our community,” she says. “Baptist Health South Florida is joining forces with Mayo Clinic, one of the largest nonprofit academic health systems in the U.S., on a clinical trial focused on increasing convalescent plasma (CP) therapy for COVID-19 patients. Studies have shown that CP therapy can boost the ability of people to fight the virus through the powerful antibodies built up in the plasma of recovered COVID-19 patients.”
Before this partnership, Baptist Health had taken a leading role as one of the first health institutions in Florida to use this therapy and working to approve and treat more than 60 critically-ill patients across its health system with CP. Now, as part of the Mayo Clinic trial, a streamlined U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval process will allow Baptist Health to monitor and treat more COVID-19 patients, possibly including non-critical ones, before they need a ventilator or Intensive Care Unit (ICU) attention. “There are so many moving stories about the lives we are able to impact,” she says. “One of the most recent ones involved one of our employees, a young single mother of two who contracted COVID-19. Thanks to the ground-breaking work of Dr. Gunther Koehne with mesenchymal stem cells, she recovered, and was able to be discharged and go home to her children. It was not only heartwarming to see the family reunited after 21 days apart, but to know our funding of this research helped make this happen.”
And this is but one of so many stories, be it about a positive outcome from cancer, a stroke or heart attack. The work of Baptist’s luminary physicians and the technology they have available makes a daily impact on lives and families. “It makes what we do very special,” she says. “Being able to support the incredible work of our physicians and clinical teams — and help support the extraordinary care we provide to our community, regardless of ability to pay, drives us all. Our donors have always been an essential part of our community, and that couldn’t be truer than right now. We’re abundantly grateful to everyone who makes a gift of any level to support our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.”
Baptist Health South Florida Foundation is located at 6855 Red Road in Coral Gables. For more information, call 786.467.5411 or visit their website at BaptistHealth.net/Giving.