Nemours launches first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign
After 30 years of quietly offering quality medical care to children in the Jacksonville community, leaders at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care in San Marco feel it’s time to spill the beans about what may be one of Northeast Florida’s “best kept secrets.”
To bring a greater understanding of the internationally recognized health-care system’s mission and the exceptional pediatric treatment it offers, Nemours launched the public phase of “Our Promise – A Campaign for Children’s Health,” during a celebration on its riverfront campus April 24. The first-ever comprehensive fundraising drive seeks to raise $7 million to support pediatric medical care for its Northeast Florida patients and families.
“Nemours is a wonderful organization that provides a wonderful service to the community. The problem is no one knows anything about it,” said Malcolm Jones, chairman of the “Our Promise” campaign. “That’s what we are trying to overcome here. We want people to see what a crown jewel this is for Jacksonville. Only if you’ve visited Nemours with one of your children or grandchildren do you know what Nemours does and the excellent care it gives.”
Money raised by the campaign will fund the refurbishment of the San Marco facility’s lobby, making it more child-friendly. The building’s foyer has not been updated since it was built 30 years ago.
Campaign funds will also support the clinic’s Hearing Loss Program and its Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders.
The Hearing Loss Program offers speech therapy services, which are not covered by insurance, to children with hearing loss, as well as a summer camp for kids with cochlear implants, updated screening equipment, and a cochlear implant and hearing aid loaner bank.
Funding for Nemours’ Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders will support non-medical enrichment programs such as art and music therapies, research studies, medical education for the next generation of specialists, and community-based programming to more than 300 oncology patients and their families annually.
During 2017, Nemours Children’s Specialty Care provided more than $24 million in uncompensated care to Northeast Florida children, many of whom were uninsured or underinsured.
Even before launching the public phase of its campaign, Nemours was off to a good start. Over the past year it has quietly raised $5.1 million toward its $7 million goal through donations from individuals and organizations, including the Dolores Barr Weaver Fund through The Community Foundation, and a $350,000 challenge grant from THE PLAYERS Championship. Nemours also grossed $90,000 during its first annual golf tournament April 16 at San Jose Country Club, said Jones.
During the campaign’s debut reception, members of THE PLAYERS’ Blue Coat and Red Coat volunteer teams were on hand when Jared Rice, executive director of THE PLAYERS, made the surprise announcement that the organization had bumped up its matching grant to $500,000.
Dr. Michael Erhard, physician and chief for Nemours in Florida, said he was grateful for THE PLAYERS’ support and to see the campaign had reached more than half its goal so early. “It speaks to the response of the community. This is about the community coming together and supporting each other,” he said. “It’s a coming together to take care of kids.”
Erhard’s colleague, Dr. Gary Josephson, chief medical officer for Nemours in Jacksonville, said he was not surprised about the campaign’s early success. “With the changes in healthcare today, our children are very vulnerable because reimbursement for pediatric services from insurance and the state continues to go down,” he said. “Once the message got out, our community has been very supportive of all that Nemours does. It recognizes we are here and that we give millions of dollars of uncompensated care year after year,” he said.
“Our wonderful staff has a passion for what we do, which is to bring the best doctors, the best technology, the best research, the best procedures, and the best education to our families in Jacksonville and in the region. We need the community to partner with us, so we can continue to give this excellent care to our children.”
By Marcia Hodgson