The latest philanthropic donation to Akron Children’s Hospital will go toward a newly endowed chair that is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
It is also in telehealth, which has grown in use among hospital systems nationwide during the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
The newly endowed chair in telehealth is being funded through a $1 million gift from Marci M. Matthews.
The Marci M. Matthews Endowed Chair in Telehealth will give Children’s “the unique ability to access a broad range of technologies and services to improve access to patient care as well as the ability to expand health care training,” the hospital said.
“We believe this to be the first telehealth endowed chair in the nation and we are so grateful to Marci for this generous gift,” said Akron Children’s Hospital President and CEO Grace Wakulchik. “Our medical landscape is changing rapidly and the creation of the Marci M. Matthews Endowed Chair in Telehealth will ensure Akron Children’s remains at the forefront of this innovative way to treat our patients and expand access to learning and training.”
The chair will be held by Dr. Sarah Rush, chief medical information officer, director of neuro-oncology and a pediatric oncologist at Children’s. Rush oversees the health system’s clinical information systems and assists clinicians in the delivery of patient care. She also works closely with the hospital’s medical staff, administration and information technology department on Children’s electronic medical records system.
Rush came to the hospital in 2013 as a pediatric oncologist and has been an active member of the hospital’s physician informatics group since 2016.
Matthews and her family are no strangers to the hospital.
Last year, the new Akron Children’s Hospital Health Center in Boston Heights was named in honor of Matthews’ late mother, Cynthia Parker Matthews. The building was named in honor of a $2 million donation from the Cynthia Parker Matthews Family Foundation to remodel the Paul and Carol David Foundation Burn Institute on the hospital’s main Akron campus.
Cynthia Parker Matthew’s parents helped found the company now known as Parker Hannifin. The Cleveland-based corporation is a global maker of motion and control technologies.
Marci Matthews has also provided donations for masks and to buy all patients, families and staff meals on Christmas.
The donation for the new chair is a personal gift from Marci Matthews.
“The recent events in our world reinforced to me the need to support efforts to give patients and their families access to medical treatment without barriers,” Matthews said. “I really appreciated how Akron Children’s Hospital responded quickly to expand telehealth services to its patients and families.”
Telehealth provides a broad range of health care services that can be accessed remotely. In addition to traditional clinical support such as well-check visits, telehealth includes remote non-clinical services such as provider training and continuing medical education. Since Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s stay in place order, Akron Children’s has seen an exponential increase in telehealth appointments.
Between March and April Akron Children’s has seen an 88 percent increase in the number of completed telehealth visits.
Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or [email protected] Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.beaconjournal.com/topics/linfisher