This donor wrote a check for nearly $1M to resolve health disparities

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, deviating from its norm, recently donated $982,000 to the philanthropic arm of Camden, N.J.-based Cooper Health System, to enhance heart disease care in vulnerable populations, reports Inside Philanthropy.

The BMS Foundation is well versed in the healthcare scene, as many of its donations have gone toward combating specific diseases tied to various geographic areas. In the past, the foundation funded initiatives combating cancer in Europe, HIV in Africa, hepatitis in Asia, and cancer and HIV in the U.S.

While this donation is similar to the foundation's previous gifts because it focuses on a single disease, it deviates from BMS's norm in that it targets health disparities on U.S. soil. In the past, the BMS foundation primarily tackled health disparities abroad.

The foundation is now shifting its support to removing care barriers for underserved populations, Lisa McCormick Lavery, communications director for the BMS Foundation, told Inside Philanthropy.

"Social and health system barriers such as poverty and a lack of healthcare providers affect a patient's ability to access and navigate specialty healthcare. These barriers can lead to patients either significantly delaying or discontinuing care, or — worst of all — forgoing the care recommended for them," Ms. McCormick Lavery said.

The gift to the Cooper Foundation, the philanthropic arm of one of New Jersey's largest health systems, will support a project focused on expanding care in safety-net settings. In particular, the Cooper Foundation Project will support Medicaid patients with a history of heart issues by connecting them with community resources, providing lifestyle change hacks and helping patients keep up with proper medications.

BMS' latest gift to the Cooper Foundation acknowledges that disparities in health also exist in the U.S. — something a growing number of philanthropists are recognizing. Most recently, the Weingart Foundation and the Ballmer Group gifted $15 million to Los Angeles-based Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital to support physician recruitment in an underserved community.

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