WASHINGTON and NEW YORK — The RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF) will present a $2 million gift to The George Washington University Medical Center’s Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health Policy during today’s Geiger Gibson Symposium, an annual event hosted by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC).  The Geiger Gibson symposium – which this year focuses on migrant health care – recognizes the remarkable achievements of America’s community health centers.  The event is presented as part of NACHC’s Policy and Issues Forum that annually draws thousands of health activists and health center professionals from around the country. The Geiger Gibson Symposium will be held today in the International Ballroom East at the Washington Hilton and Towers Hotel (1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.) from 4:45 to 6:15 p.m.

The purpose of the Foundation gift is to advance policy research and scholarship related to community health centers and the populations they serve.  The RCHN CHF gift represents the single largest gift ever given to the School of Public Health and Health Services, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2007.

Community health centers are local, non-profit, community-governed health care clinics that provide comprehensive care to low income and medically underserved populations.  Over 40 years, the community health center program has grown from two clinics in Boston, Mass., and Mound Bayou, Miss., into 1,000 centers serving more than 15 million residents in the nation’s poorest urban and rural communities.

The Geiger Gibson program, established in 2003 and named after health center and human rights pioneers Drs. H. Jack Geiger and Count Gibson, is part of the School of Public Health and Health Services.  It focuses on health centers, their history and work, and the communities they serve.

The RCHN Community Health Foundation, which was founded in October 2005, is a not-for-profit operating Foundation whose purpose is to support community health centers through strategic investment, advocacy, education and research.  The only foundation in the country dedicated to community health centers, the Foundation builds on a 40-year commitment to the provision of accessible, high quality community-based health care services for underserved, medically vulnerable populations. The Foundation is led by Julio Bellber, president and CEO, a nationally renowned leader of the health center movement.

“The Foundation views this landmark gift and the work it will support as fundamental to a long-term strategy to create the next generation of community health leaders and scholars through education, research and training in community health practice and scholarship,” Bellber said.  “Along with GW, the Foundation looks forward to building partnerships in this endeavor with other organizations that share our focus on and interest in health centers.”

Activities supported by the gift, which include a multi-faceted academic training and research initiative, will be carried out through a program to be known as the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative.

Ruth J. Katz, JD, MPH, Walter G. Ross Professor of Health Policy and SPHHS Dean, said, “We are deeply grateful for this gift, which will expand the breadth and strength of scholarship related to health centers and the populations and communities they serve. It will also spur the development of a new generation of researchers and scholars who are keenly focused on the critical issue of primary health care and population health improvement for medically underserved populations.”

Thomas Van Coverden, president of the National Association of Community Health Centers, said,  “Nationally, all components of the health care system are focused on finding effective ways to achieve high quality, improve access, and optimize costs. This is particularly true of health centers, whose mission is to improve and enhance community responsive health care, especially for the uninsured and underserved.  Health centers are thrilled by the Foundation’s generosity and the Geiger Gibson program, which together recognize the achievements of health centers in such an enduring way.”

Added H. Jack Geiger, Arthur C. Logan professor emeritus at the City University of New York Medical School, “I can imagine no more fitting way to further the work of health centers on behalf of communities everywhere than through this investment.”

The Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Collaborative will support an array of activities: national research to examine the health care delivery experiences, challenges and achievements of health centers; research partnerships with up to six community health centers and local emerging scholars; postdoctoral training in economics and health policy aimed at measuring the value of community primary care health interventions; advanced policy training scholarships; and information dissemination to policy makers, the media and thought leaders.

Sara Rosenbaum, JD, Hirsh professor and chair, Department of Health Policy, will oversee the Collaborative, which will be advised by a national committee of academic, policy and health center leaders.  Peter Shin, PhD, MPH, Associate Research Professor of Health Policy, will oversee the health services research collaborative and dissemination of findings. Avi Dor, PhD, professor of Economics and Health Policy, will direct the post-doctoral awards program. Sara Wilensky, JD, MPP, assistant research professor of Health Policy, will oversee the masters-level scholarship program.

About the RCHN Community Health Foundation
The RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF) is a New York-based not-for-profit operating foundation dedicated to supporting and benefiting community health centers (CHCs) in New York state and nationally.  The Foundation develops and supports programmatic and business initiatives related to community health center access, pharmacy and health information technology through strategic investment, research, outreach, education, and coalition building and advocacy. For more information about RCHN CHF, contact Executive Vice President Feygele Jacobs at 212-246-1122 ext. 712 or fjacobs@rchnfoundation.org.

About The George Washington University Medical Center
The George Washington University Medical Center is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary academic health center that has consistently provided high quality medical care in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area for 176 years. The Medical Center comprises the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, the 11th oldest medical school in the country; the School of Public Health and Health Services, the only such school in the nation’s capital; GW Hospital, jointly owned and operated by a partnership between The George Washington University and Universal Health Services, Inc.; and the GW Medical Faculty Associates, an independent faculty practice plan. For more information on GWUMC, visit www.gwumc.edu.