CORONAVIRUS

University of Iowa receives $2 million gift for its coronavirus fight

Jacobson Foundation donation comes as UIHC financial losses mount

Guest services workers wait for arriving patients, workers and visitors at the main entrance at the University of Iowa H
Guest services workers wait for arriving patients, workers and visitors at the main entrance at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on April 13 in Iowa City. UIHC on Tuesday announced a $2 million gift from the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation to help the hospital and its staff fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Continuing its philanthropic support of University of Iowa Health Care — which is on the front lines of this state’s coronavirus response — the Richard O. Jacobson Foundation on Tuesday gave $2 million “to help with the most urgent needs in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“In times like these, there are added demands on health care workers,” UI Hospitals and Clinics CEO Suresh Gunasekaran said in a statement. “They need to continue caring for their patients while keeping their families and themselves safe without the usual support mechanisms, such as child-care.

“This will be a great help.”

UI Health Care will use the money for current and future expenses associated with diagnosing, treating and preventing COVID-19.

The gift also will help UIHC workers with emergency child care, housing and food needs. It also will help cover personal protective equipment purchases, which have escalated in recent months with the surge in worldwide demand.

Fewer surgeries affects revenue

Earlier this month, UIHC administrators spelled out the financial blow COVID-19 is having following the hospital’s decision to cut about two-thirds of its surgeries and half of its clinic visits to limit the disease’s spread.

Brooks Jackson, UI Health Care vice president for medical affairs, also noted the high cost of personal protective gear — such as gowns, face shields and masks.

“Instead of paying 50 cents a mask, we’re paying $8 a mask, and it’s the lost revenue that is really the major financial issue,” Jackson told the Board of Regents, estimating COVID-19 losses and expenses could reach “$45 million to $50 million a month at this rate.”

Tuesday’s donation also will support UI research — already underway — related to treatment and prevention of COVID-19, according to Gunasekaran, who thanked the foundation in characterizing the donation as “tremendous.”

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in a video message expressed her gratitude.

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“We are very fortunate to have world-class providers, nurses, researchers and staff who demonstrate the humble heroism and spirit of collaboration that make us proud to be Iowans,” she said in the statement. “Thank you to the Jacobson Foundation for your invaluable role in this fight.”

Other donations

UIHC has been collecting donations of all sizes in its fight against COVID-19 — requesting in-kind gifts in the form of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and gowns.

The UI Center for Advancement launched a “UI Health Care Staff Emergency Fund” to raise money for front-line providers, and that effort had raised more than $58,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

UI alum created foundation

Just over a year ago, the Jacobson Foundation — created in 1976 by philanthropist and UI alumnus Richard “Dick” Orrin Jacobson — gave $4.5 million to UIHC to create two endowed chairs.

One is in the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital’s Department of Pediatrics in Iowa City, and the other helps expand specialty pediatric services that the UI offers in Des Moines in collaboration with Blank Children’s Hospital.

Jacobson, of Des Moines, died in 2016 at his home in Florida at age 79.

Comments: (319) 339-3158; vanessa.miller@thegazette.com

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