Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Antony Chiang, CEO of Dogwood Health Trust, the foundation that was created out of the sale of Mission Health to HCA Healthcare.

Antony Chiang, CEO of the Dogwood Health Trust, the private grant-making foundation created out of the sale of Mission Hospital, gave on update this afternoon about the foundation’s efforts regarding the novel coronavirus outbreak.

-Take-aways: Chiang is a data nerd, and that really came through in today’s Zoom meeting. I love it. He turns to math and science  to explain what’s happening, and explain Dogwood’s response – great! Chiang wasn’t great on detail – he didn’t state dollar amounts of spending, or name specific partners that Dogwood is working with – no! Be transparent. See below for more on all of this.

Here are some highlights:

-For quick background, the Dogwood Health Trust has about $1.5 billion in assets and this fiscal year plans to spend about $40 million to $50 million. So far, the foundation has initially committed $10 million to COVID-19 response, according to Chiang.

-But wait: Chiang really stressed that at this point, it’s not about how much money the foundation is spending on the disease. Chiang’s bottom line message on Wednesday: Western North Carolina still has time to slow COVID-19 spread, but everyone must practice “severe social distancing.” Now.

-Focus: Chiang said Dogwood Health Trust is focusing on three general categories when it comes to its novel coronavirus response: the effort to slow the spread to COVID-19 and “flatten the curve” of outbreak so local health systems aren’t overwhelmed; prepare for the worst-case scenario; and then mitigate social impacts.

-The caveat: Chiang gave a number of examples of where Dogwood Health Trust is putting its money, although he was short on details in terms how much money and where. I’m hoping the Dogwood Health Trust offers up real transparency on where its investing its millions. Who’s getting the cash? How much? Tell us.

Examples of Dogwood spending:

-Helping fund Spanish translation efforts to get information out to more people; funding wifi hot spots on school buses to improve internet connections in rural areas; funding meal prep.

Funding a pilot project for an AI-driven online screening service in several counties so folks know if they need to see a primary health care doctor or get testing.

-Partnering with the Community Foundation of WNC for an emergency and relief fund.

-Partnering will food a food distribution agency for the preparation and drop-off of meals for seniors.

-Personal protective gear: Chiang says Dogwood has helped an area collaborative scale up its ability to make face shields. He declined to name the group, saying the group would be issuing a press release soon and he would defer to them. “They’re the ones innovating,” he added, in terms of wanting to let them have the spotlight.

-Testing: Chiang says Dogwood has been talked with at least one clinical partner working on a COVID-19 test offering rapid results , meaning results within hours rather than days. There are so many obstacles to get it going, Chiang says, from acquiring equipment to getting the required state licensing, that he gave it a 50-50 chance of succeeding.

-Ventilators: Chiang sees a tipping point regarding ventilators. If Western North Carolina gets to 1,000 positive COVID-19 cases, data shows that about 100 people will need ventilators. The region has about 125 ventilators now. Currently, about 85 of those are available at any given time. Chiang says Dogwood Health Trust is trying to be a back-up source of ventilators to Mission Hospital and HCA’s back-up sources. He didn’t offer other specifics about numbers of ventilators Dogwood might help secure.

-A model for collaboration: Chiang noted that Henderson County’s response to COVID-19 had been a model of how agencies can work together. He said the county had “amazing collaboration” between the local health care systems and community college and had “astonishingly fast” drive-thru testing available, which collapsed when their testing kit supply chain collapsed. That was a shame, Chiang said, because Dogwood wanted to replicate Henderson County’s model.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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