The commitment to Massachusetts General Hospital shown by E. Gerald Corrigan, PhD, and Cathy Minehan is well known. Cathy has been chair of the hospital’s Board of Trustees since mid 2008, and five years ago, Jerry made a gift that both named the cardiac intensive care unit and established the Elizabeth Anne and Karen Barlow Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program.
Since then, the Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program has made great strides in meeting its clinical, research and teaching goals and has played an important role in the growing awareness nationally of women’s cardiac health issues. “The impact of the women’s heart program transcends our expectations,” says Jerry. “I think that it has surprised most everyone at Mass General, too.”
The couple recently made an extraordinary $20 million gift that supports innovation and research in the Women’s Heart Health Program and throughout the MGH Heart Center. In recognition of this, Mass General leadership has named the MGH Heart Center after Jerry and Cathy. Going forward, it will be known as the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center. The couple intends that their gift not only helps advance the extraordinary work of the Heart Center but also serves as a challenge to others to support this important effort.
“The impact of the women’s heart program transcends our expectations,” says Jerry Corrigan. “I think that it has surprised most everyone at Mass General, too.”
Understanding Women’s Heart Health Issues
In the women’s program, part of the gift will function as an endowment which, when supplemented by other giving, will ensure that the important work of understanding heart disease in women will have ongoing support. “We think the next breakthrough in women’s heart health will come from the Mass General group,” Cathy explains, “so we want to keep a high level of activity going.”
Across the heart center more broadly, the new funding initially supports a grant program called SPARK awards, aimed at fostering translational research. “We have a broad portfolio of research we’re pursuing thanks to Cathy and Jerry’s gift,” says William Dec, MD, chief of the Cardiology Division and co-director of the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center. The first seven grant recipients were named in March 2012.
The couple has done much more than provide generous funding, Dr. Dec notes: “They’ve challenged us by asking what we need to do to exceed our already nationally recognized program to become the best heart center in the U.S. The answer is: accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and translate those discoveries to patient care as soon as possible.”
Matching Demand with Capacity
Cathy, dean of the School of Management at Simmons College, and Jerry, a managing director in the executive office of Goldman Sachs, have encouraged Corrigan Minehan Heart Center leadership to maintain a strong focus on the economics of health care. Thoralf Sundt III, MD, chief of the Division of Cardiac Surgery and center co-director, studies production costs and capacity management. “Our goal is to match demand and capacity more closely, which will remove waste that occurs with over- and under-utilization,” he explains. “This will result in happier patients and caregivers, and the economic benefits are enormous.”
“We don’t think of this gift as simple philanthropy,” says Jerry. “We consider it to be an investment in the future. The clinical and scientific work under way at the Heart Center can be a catalyst for enhanced cardiac health care both nationally and internationally.”