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Harris Health System Announces Expanded Philanthropic Support for Its Vital Public Healthcare Mission

HOUSTON (April 27, 2023) The Board of Trustees of Harris Health System today approved two new agreements enabling increased philanthropic support of its vital public healthcare mission, with stronger governance controls and clearer focus. Under the agreements, the existing Harris County Hospital District Foundation (the “Foundation") will continue to sponsor signature events designed to raise funds and build community support and goodwill. A newly created Harris Health Strategic Fund (the “Strategic Fund") will raise major gifts to support the significant infrastructure investments and expanded healthcare services envisioned in the Harris Health's ambitious Strategic Plan.

“In addition to the foundational support we receive from Harris County taxpayers, our public healthcare system benefits tremendously from the generosity of donors large and small," said Harris Health President and CEO Esmaeil Porsa, MD. “Philanthropy will be critical as our system works to ensure that patient care provided at Harris Health hospitals and clinics is equitable and comparable in quality to the care provided by non-safety net hospitals." 

In conjunction with the Harris Health Strategic Plan, Harris Health has been reviewing its philanthropic strategies and affiliated governance structures to increase philanthropic support and ensure donations are spent in the most effective and strategic ways possible. 

A group of community leaders, led by Beth Robertson, chair of The Cullen Foundation and former chair of The Cullen Trust for Health Care, stepped forward to create the Strategic Fund specifically designed to support the Harris Health Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan, based on a needs assessment conducted in 2021, will require significant public and private investment to meet Harris County's growing healthcare needs by replacing aging hospitals, modernizing clinics and expanding healthcare services. “Our community can only prosper if all of our people are healthy and have access to healthcare," said Beth Robertson, chair of the new Strategic Fund. “With more than 22% of Harris County residents under the age of 65 uninsured and many more 'underinsured,' we believe that it is imperative to invest to make sure quality healthcare is available to meet the growing needs of residents." 

The Foundation, chaired by Theo Franklin, will continue its important work to raise funds and build support within the community through events including the popular TexasMedRun, which attracted more than 1,000 participants in 2022, the Swing for the Green Golf Tournament, the Silver Tea and the Nurses Gala and Awards Ceremony. “The Harris County Hospital District Foundation Board of Trustees and staff consider it an honor to work hand in hand with our generous stakeholders, donors, friends, volunteers and supporters. Together, we continue to be champions of the Harris Health System and all of the residents of Harris County," states Theodore D. Franklin, chair, Foundation. 

“We appreciate the work of the Foundation, and additionally, are delighted and grateful that a group of community leaders including Beth Robertson; Sonceria “Sonny" Messiah Jiles, CEO at Houston Defender Network; Ed Allday, Fondren Foundation trustee and civic leader, and others are stepping forward to lead the Strategic Fund's philanthropic efforts to bring in $100 million to support the implementation of our exciting and visionary Strategic Plan," said Porsa. 

A recent economic impact study found that the employment and income generated by Harris Health hospitals and clinics are a major factor in the economic health of Harris County, providing a more than 5-to-1 return on local tax investment. By growing philanthropic giving, taxpayer funds will expand the investment in new healthcare infrastructure for Harris Health. 

The Strategic Plan and other Harris Health programs will be supported by funds generated through an anticipated countywide bond election, federal grants, philanthropic contributions and community events. Implementing the Strategic Plan will cost an estimated $2.9 billion over a 10-year period, with up to $100 million needed from philanthropy. The Foundation and the Strategic Fund are part of a sophisticated fundraising effort to benefit Harris Health System's mission.