January 28 2022 – Palm Health Foundation, founded in December 2001 as the successor to Good Samaritan and St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundations, is marking its twenty-year anniversary with a look-back at the impact it has made on some of Palm Beach County’s most significant health challenges. Bookended by 2001’s Anthrax attack and 2021’s COVID pandemic, the foundation’s history spans from investing in immediate needs during times of crisis, to funding initiatives for lifelong wellbeing to help all Palm Beach County residents thrive and reach their full health potential. During its twenty-year history, the foundation grew its assets from $50 million to more than $100 million through strong donor relationships and sound fiscal management and granted more than $85 million to the Palm Beach County community.
The foundation made one of its first grants in 2001 to the Palm Beach Medical Society in the wake of 9/11 and Boca Raton’s anthrax attack to establish the Healthcare Emergency Response Coalition of Palm Beach County (HERC), a network of hospitals, emergency response agencies, and community disaster partners to collaborate on disaster and public health emergencies. HERC became a model project for the nation and for how Palm Health Foundation would deliver on its mission, “to inspire and fund solutions for better health in Palm Beach County through community collaboration.”
Bringing together multiple stakeholders to co-design solutions has become the foundation’s hallmark across its three strategic priority areas: building a culture of health, advancing brain health, and strengthening the health professions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an opportunity to address all three came together through the foundation’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors Fund, established to take immediate action on residents’ urgent health and living needs. The effort was the catalyst for the formation of the “Rapid Response Team,” a new coalition of grassroots community, health, and behavioral health organizations and initiatives, that responds to residents with challenges ranging from COVID-related homelessness to mental health supports and hunger.
The foundation is also well known for its long-term commitments to Palm Beach County’s greatest health challenges. Significant investments and achievements in each of the foundation’s strategic priority areas since 2001 include:
Building a Culture of Health
- The foundation’sHealthier Togetherinitiative, launched in 2013, marked an evolution in the foundation’s investment strategy from clinical healthcare solutions to addressing the social, behavioral, and environmental factors at the root of health inequity, recognizing that a person’s zip code can influence their health outcomes more than their genetic code. The foundation invested $1 million in each of six neighborhood communities over multiple years to transform health through resident-led efforts that promote access to healthy foods, safe places to exercise and reduction of chronic stress to maintain good health over residents’ lifetimes. The initiative has been acknowledged by national organizations as a role model for other communities.
Advancing Brain Health
- In 2017, the foundation announced The Brain Health Innovation Fund to support its vision to establish Palm Beach County as a national leader in brain health advancement by strengthening the local bonds between scientific research, community supports and quality care. It has since invested in expanding the nationally acclaimed Mental Health First Aid program in diverse communities, led a 100-day challenge to address the opioid crisis, and helped launch BeWellPBC, a behavioral health movement that is engaging the community’s residents, systems and sectors in meaningful ways to address county needs. A recent $1 million gift to Florida Atlantic University Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute will support a new program in computational brain science and health.
Strengthening the Health Professions
- Since 2001, Palm Health Foundation has been recognized by nursing leaders and educators for its dedication and $10 million investment to grow and strengthen the nursing workforce in Palm Beach County. In addition, the foundation has granted more than $3.5 million in nursing scholarships to over 1,000 nursing students for advanced education and recently expanded its scholarships to include the behavioral health field.
Beyond monetary investments, Palm Health Foundation has led county-wide public health campaigns engaging all ages in better health practices. The “Let’s Move Physical Activity Challenge” kicked off in 2012 to encourage residents to complete 30 minutes of activity each day during the month of March. The program has been so successful, residents collectively logged 59,464,582 minutes during the 2021 campaign. Each October the foundation runs a “Train the Brain” campaign to improve brain health. With the information and resources provided, participants are invited to make changes in their thinking about mental health conditions, adopt brain health habits that integrate self-care behaviors into their daily routines, and show compassion to individuals with acute and persistent mental health conditions.
The culmination of Palm Health Foundation’s efforts in partnership with community led to one of its most significant achievements to mark its 20th year. The foundation led the effort to apply for and win the 2020-2021 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s prestigious Culture of Health Prize in collaboration with Children’s Services Council, Palm Beach County Youth Services Department, and many other community leaders.
Reflecting on how far the foundation has come since its founding in 2001, Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Health Foundation said, “I’m most proud of the way our current work honors the foundation’s original vision while it also deepens and expands our impact and influence on resident health opportunity and equity. In the early years, our tagline was, ‘Together, we can do more.’ Our focus has always been, and will always be, on what our community can accomplish together.”
To read more about Palm Health Foundation’s twenty-year history and significant milestones, please click here.
Photos can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8f5no157gydf0pp/AAAJyQv238prTGW_0b7rK4SBa?dl=0
About Palm Health Foundation
Palm Health Foundation is Palm Beach County’s community foundation for health. With the support of donors and a focus on results, the foundation builds strong community partnerships, respects diverse opinions, advocates for its most vulnerable neighbors and inspires innovative solutions to lead change for better health now and for generations to come. The foundation supports health equity for Palm Beach County residents of all backgrounds, heritage, education, incomes and states of well-being. Palm Health Foundation has invested more than $89 million in Palm Beach County health since 2001. For more information about Palm Health Foundation, visit palmhealthfoundation.org or call (561) 833-6333.