A global pandemic creates a massive ripple effect. Medical equipment shortages. Job loss. Food insecurity. Economic hardship. Those hit hardest are frontline healthcare workers and underserved patients and communities. Current data also suggests a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups.1
Beyond ramping up production of lifesaving ventilators and ensuring the flow of critical medical devices to hospitals, Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation moved quickly to contribute to COVID-19 relief efforts. Focused on scalable and sustainable impact, collaboration with nonprofits around the globe was key.
“Identifying and directing our philanthropic contributions to areas where we can make the greatest impact is always a priority at Medtronic, but in times of emergency response, being strategic about how we support nonprofits, communities, and those on the front lines becomes even more important,” said Paurvi Bhatt, president, Medtronic Foundation and vice president of philanthropy at Medtronic.
To date, Medtronic and the Medtronic Foundation have pledged more than $36 million to COVID-19 response efforts. From monetary grants to product donations, the collective effort is contributing to the global healthcare response, while also supporting underserved communities hit hardest by the pandemic.
“This is much more than just providing financial support — we’re all-hands-on-deck across our organization, building partnerships with NGOs, healthcare professionals, patient groups, and others with the goal to improve outcomes for vulnerable populations,” added Bhatt.
In a time like this, there’s nothing more important.
Providing financial resources to underserved communities hit hardest by COVID-19 is a critical priority.
“We have a responsibility to be a leader on global issues impacting access to healthcare and supporting local organizations working hard in our communities,” said Bhatt. “Since February, the Medtronic Foundation has been increasing its strategic investments in nonprofit partners to support and equip front-line health workers.”
The Medtronic Foundation is partnering with nearly 50 global and local nonprofit organizations, supporting the safety of frontline healthcare workers — including provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical supplies — and assistance to local communities in offering health and economic support. Food insecurity is another major hurdle. Partnerships with food banks, Meals on Wheels affiliates, and local nonprofits are aimed at helping fill that gap.
Among the Medtronic Foundation’s global partners, the WHO Solidarity Fund is helping countries prevent, detect, and respond to COVID-19, especially where needs are the greatest. Elizabeth Cousens, president and chief executive officer, thanked the Medtronic Foundation for “stepping up and being a part of this historic effort.”
“Your gift will enable our partners to continue leading rapid response efforts in countries that are hardest hit,” wrote Cousens. “Together, we can protect the most vulnerable members of our society and strengthen healthcare systems.”
In Minnesota, the United Way’s Greater Twin Cities Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund is also getting a helping hand from the Medtronic Foundation. Grant money will help provide food and shelter, childcare and early childhood education, sanitation and hygiene supplies, financial assistance, and support for organizations led by and predominantly serving black, Indigenous, and people of color.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Medtronic Foundation, United Way is able to provide immediate financial relief to our community where it’s needed most,” said John Wilgers, President & CEO of Greater Twin Cities United Way. “We’re grateful for Medtronic Foundation’s partnership and support to help create a community where all have the opportunity to thrive, regardless of income, race, or place.”
For diabetes patients, routine access to insulin, other therapies, and medical supplies is key to managing their health. When finances are tight, some patients are faced with tough choices such as rationing treatment or going without. Concerns about continuity of therapy create an additional layer of anxiety during a time that is already stressful.
To support patients, Medtronic is donating $1 million in products to Insulin for Life USA, a nonprofit that specializes in disaster relief and helps patients experiencing financial hardships secure the diabetes supplies they need. Medtronic sensors, infusion sets, and other supplies will be donated to Insulin for Life who will distribute the products to patients in need.
“Our mission is to provide insulin and disease management supplies free of charge to those with diabetes who otherwise would go without,” said Carol Atkinson, Director of Insulin for Life USA. “Medtronic is making it possible for us to assist a number of people who, due to COVID-19 related financial hardship, are struggling to pay for the supplies.”
In addition to product donations, Medtronic is helping diabetes customers who have lost their health insurance, due to COVID-19 related job loss. The expanded Medtronic Assurance program, designed to ensure customers have continued access to diabetes technology and supplies, now allows eligible U.S. customers to receive a 3-month supply of glucose sensors, infusion sets, and reservoirs at no cost.
Already vulnerable to illness, many patients with kidney failure require weekly trips to dialysis centers for treatment. Several of those patients need regular hospital visits to ensure the access points, called arteriovenous (AV) fistulae, on their arms remain open to handle the flow of blood during dialysis. It means more trips to medical facilities at a time when healthcare workers are trying to mitigate exposure for high-risk patients.
Understanding what’s at stake, Medtronic announced a $10 million product donation to help people living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) continue their dialysis safely and without interruption. Teaming up with physician societies and patient advocacy organizations, Medtronic is donating thousands of drug-coated balloon (DCB) products to U.S.-based physicians performing access maintenance procedures. DCBs reopen arteries and leave behind a drug intended to keep them open longer, so that the dialysis treatment can safely continue.
“The extended time to reintervention with this therapy is important to ensure continued, uninterrupted dialysis for these high-risk patients,” says Dr. Robert Lookstein, an interventional radiologist at Mount Sinai in New York.
“Patients are still very worried about COVID-19 and their risk for infection,” says Terry Litchfield, president of Access Solutions, an organization focused on patient advocacy related to vascular access services. “They don’t want to go to hospitals at any cost. One less trip to the hospital is huge right now.”
“As physicians, our goal should always be to ensure patients maintain their access to care and limit their exposure to the emergency room and the hospital. This is especially true in times like these.”