Northeast Ohio hospital group creates new charity which will benefit the Greater Cleveland Fisher House

The Center for Health Affairs, a member organization for Northeast Ohio’s Hospitals, has created a new charity fund. ideastream health reporter Sarah Jane Tribble reports where the money comes from and how the nonprofit picked the Cleveland VA as its first donation.

“We’re really interested in having an impact in the overall health of the community and also having an impact in the ability for all people to access quality health care and to have better health outcomes,” said the Center for Health Affair’s Chief Executive Bill Ryan.

The first project, Ryan said, will be to help build a Fisher House.

The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center is a member of the Center for Health Affairs and gets an annual visit from Ryan. It was during Ryan’s most recent fall tour, when the idea of donating land to so the hospital could build a Fisher House first took hold.

VA Director Sue Fuehrer was with Ryan on the tour and she recalls his amazement at how busy the hospital was.

“You guys are building, it’s like a little city,” Fuehrer recalls Ryan saying.

The Cleveland VA hospital provides outpatient care for more than 107,000 veterans each year. And the daily inpatient census includes 550 inpatients.

But unlike many Veterans Affairs hospitals, it does not have a place for families from out of town to stay.

So when Ryan asked at the end of his visit whether there was anything he could do to help, Fuehrer said directly, “We don’t have a Fisher House.”

Fisher Houses are facilities at VA centers similar to the more commonly known Ronald McDonald houses attached to private hospitals. They provide a place for family to stay when loved ones are being treated.

“For veterans that are coming back, particularly the young veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan that have significant injuries that require significant rehabilitation, having your wife or your husband and your children nearby makes a tremendous difference in your outlook and ability to heal,” Fuehrer said.

Ryan said the new charity’s first project would be to buy the land needed to build a Fisher House.

The donation couldn’t have come soon enough. The Cleveland VA has been hoping to raise support for a Fisher House for several years. Dave Coker, the president of national Fisher House foundation, said Cleveland is scheduled as a project in 2015.

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Listen to the audio of the radio broadcast here.