GE launches primary healthcare program

As the nation?s lawmakers wrestle with reforming a healthcare system replete with shortcomings, General Electric Co., GE Foundation, the company?s philanthropic arm, and the GE Corporate Diversity Council this week launched a $25 million program aimed at increasing access to primary care for underserved populations.

The three-year ?Developing Health? program, announced on Oct. 21 in New York City, will provide grant funding and employee engagement to selected health centers nationwide that focus on delivering? primary care and access to quality healthcare.

?While the nation wrestles with the tough issues of healthcare reform for the country, the tens of millions of people who don?t have access today can?t wait,? said John Rice, GE vice chairman. ?We can make a real, positive difference by supporting health centers like Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center in the work that they do to serve the needs of their community.?

The new program is modeled after GE?s ?Developing Health Globally? program, which upgrades the capabilities of local hospitals in rural African, Asian and Latin American communities to improve healthcare delivery. Four New York City health centers were recipients of the first grants totaling of? $1 million. The recipients are Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center Inc. and Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center,? Brooklyn; Urban Health Plan Inc. in the Bronx; and Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Manhattan. Award recipients must be non-profit health centers with good standing in their communities; must be located in communities with an underserved population; and must be willing to partner with GE volunteers.

“We looked into areas where there was a large number of GE employees, who would then be able to volunteer at the centers, which is one part of the program,” said Deborah Elam, vice president and chief diversity officer for GE, commenting on the selection of award recipients. “These would be centers where our affinity group members will be able to have a presence and be involved.” She added that GE plans to partner with centers across the country in underserved areas and which meet the selection criteria. From the $25 million donated, the New York program received $1 million.

?With GE resources and the commitment of our employees, we have been successful in driving real, sustainable improvement around the world through the Developing Health Globally program, ” said Bob Corcoran, president of the GE Foundation. “Our aim here is to combine Foundation resources.?

The launch of ?Development Health? is part of GE?s? two-week series of healthcare panels and seminars being held in Manhattan to present such projects as the “Developing Health” program; a $250 million equity fund focused on healthcare investments; the launch of new technologies like the V-Scan portable ultrasound device; the acquisition of an MRI device manufacturer, ONI Medical Systems; and a groundbreaking cancer research partnership between GE and Eli Lilly.