Massachusetts General Hospital, a founding member of Mass General Brigham, has received a revolutionary gift of $50 million from Robert K. Kraft and The Kraft Family Foundation to address healthcare disparities caused by race, ethnicity, geography, and economic status.
The gift is the largest in support of community health and health equity in the history of Mass General and more than doubles the previous commitments of the Kraft family to ensuring the highest quality equitable health care is available in all the communities served by Mass General.
“On behalf of the hospital, I would like to express our profound gratitude to the Kraft family for this transformative and inspirational act of philanthropy, which is not only the largest of its kind in our history, but also the latest highlight of their already lengthy history of support for Mass General,” said David F. M. Brown, MD, president of Mass General. “We are committed to serving our communities and this incredibly generous gift positions Mass General to help even more patients in need of our care.”
The Kraft family’s gift will support a permanent Robert K. Kraft Endowed Chair in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion addressing health disparities in clinical care at Mass General and can be replicated beyond hospital walls.
The chair will be held by the medical director of the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Center at Mass General. Research into sickle cell disease (SCD), a serious genetic blood disorder primarily impacting African Americans (as well as Latinos of Caribbean ancestry, and people of Middle Eastern or Indian Subcontinent descent), is historically underfunded, leading to inequitable access to appropriate care for this debilitating, painful disease.
“By creating an endowed position focused on addressing clinical health care disparities, Robert Kraft and the Kraft family are creating important pathways for patients living with sickle cell disease to receive comprehensive medical care which has not traditionally been available to them,” said Joseph Betancourt, MD, MPH, Sumner M. Redstone Endowed Chair in Health Equity and senior vice president of equity and community health at Mass General. “I am grateful to the Kraft Family for their longstanding commitment to improving health care access and outcomes for patients and residents of our community.”
The gift will also further endow the Kraft Center for Community Health, first established in 2011 thanks to funding from the longtime benefactor. Its mission to catalyze innovative solutions to frontline community health problems, execute solutions locally, and make them scalable to improve health outcomes for disadvantaged populations in Massachusetts — as well as nationally — will continue to change the healthcare landscape with Kraft’s latest gift.
In 2018, the Kraft Center funded the Community Care in Reach program, a mobile unit providing clinical care and harm reduction services to people most impacted by the opioid epidemic within the Boston, Brockton, Springfield and Worcester communities.
“The support of the Kraft family has been vital in advancing community health and health equity across the Commonwealth,” said Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, executive director of the Kraft Center for Community Health and chief community health and health equity officer at Mass General Brigham. “This visionary gift will make a significant impact in the lives of people and the communities we serve, particularly for the most vulnerable, strengthening health care, improving health outcomes and eliminating health disparities. I couldn’t be more grateful to Mr. Kraft and the Kraft family for this gift to continue the meaningful and impactful work of the Kraft Center.”
The gift will also fund expansion efforts at the Mass General Blood Donor Center, one of the largest in the country, which will be renamed to honor the Kraft family. Serving more than 12,000 donors annually and accepting donations of whole blood, platelets, and double red cells, the Mass General Blood Donor Center provides 75,000 blood components annually, or approximately 30% of the blood transfused for patients across all Mass General Brigham hospitals. The gift highlights the center’s goal of becoming the primary source of blood for patients treated at Mass General and creating a diverse donor population to support the care of patients with sickle cell and other blood disorders that primarily affect minority populations.
“I am proud to live in a city that is home to what I consider the greatest hospitals in the world, led by Mass General,” said Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group. “Yet, I’ve always been troubled by healthcare inequities, as I know there are many in nearby communities who don’t have healthcare and can’t access the excellent care others receive here. That’s what inspired me and my family to create the Kraft Center for Community Health in 2011. The mission of the center is to bring world class healthcare to communities throughout the region, providing easy access to anyone in need via our mobile care units. That initial investment has paid dividends, as Dr. Elsie Taveras and her team have saved lives and positively impacted thousands of patients over the past 12 years. Now, I am joined by Jonathan, Patti and my entire family, as we have decided to significantly increase our commitment. With this gift, it is not only our intention to grow and expand the scale of the Kraft Center, but to also help bring increased visibility to the equity issues that exist in therapy treatment and development. I am honored that the leader of Mass General’s sickle cell program, a disease predominantly affecting people of color, will get the attention and focus it deserves under the Robert K. Kraft Chair in Diversity Equity and Inclusion.”
The Kraft family’s more than 40-year history of support for Mass General and community health within Greater Boston is extensive. Robert Kraft is an honorary co-chair of The Campaign for Mass General, an ambitious fundraising effort to raise $3 billion to directly support patient care, health equity and community health, research and education programs at the hospital.
Jonathan Kraft, chairman of the Mass General board of trustees and president of the Kraft Group, and his wife Patti, serve as co-chairs of The Campaign.
Founded in 1811, Massachusetts General Hospital is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and the third oldest hospital in the nation. Each year, the 1,100-bed academic medical center cares for more than 50,000 inpatients, records more than 1.5 million outpatient and emergency visits, and delivers more than 3,800 babies. Mass General is consistently ranked among the top hospitals in the nation on the US News & World Report list of “America’s Best Hospitals” and among the top three hospitals in the world in Newsweek’s list of “World’s Best Hospitals.” Mass General is home to the Mass General Research Institute, which conducts the largest hospital-based scientific program in the nation, with annual research expenditures of more than $1.2 billion and comprising more than 8,500 researchers working across more than 30 institutes, centers, and departments. Mass General is a founding member of the Mass General Brigham health care system.
Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds in medicine to make a life-changing impact for patients in our communities and people around the world.
Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services.
Mass General Brigham is a non-profit organization that is committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School.
The Kraft Center for Community Health at Massachusetts General Hospital is focused on leading innovation in community health. The Center was established in 2011 by a generous gift from Robert Kraft to expand access to high-quality, cost-effective health care for disadvantaged individuals and families.
The Kraft Center’s initiatives are focused on developing a new generation of clinical leaders committed to community health care, as well as delivering direct, frontline services to populations in need.
Photo: Philanthropist Robert Kraft with Lifestyles Magazine/Meaningful Influence founder Gabriel Erem