UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital receives $4.5 million gift

The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation gifted $4.5 million to assist in the fight for sufficient pediatric care in Iowa.


Katina Zentz

The UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital is seen in September 2018.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation recently contributed $4.5 million to create two endowed chairs at the University of Iowa Stead Family Pediatrics Department.

There are 15 divisions in the Pediatrics Department, each with a pediatric specialization. Each specialty has a director, said Raphael Hirsch, the chair of the Children’s Hospital Pediatrics Department.

With the gift, two directors will receive endowed chairs to support their department, research, or salaries.

“There’s revenue for the chair to support them and their work,” Hirsch said. “It can be a very useful tool in helping to recruit great leaders to come here. That’s why this gift is so important to us. Through this gift, we have an opportunity to recruit leaders.”

Receiving the large gift draws attention to Iowa pediatric medicine, Hirsch said. Hospital Officials hope to recruit more specialists and leaders in the field to fill the shortage.

“We are looking for nationally known leaders in their field who can help grow and increase the excellence of our programs,” Hirsch said. “We have about half [the specialists] we need to take care of all the children. One of the goals is the people we recruit will be able to grow their programs and recruit more specialists to help us address needs of children in the state of Iowa.”

The Jacobson Foundation was established in 1976 with the goal of “building strong and sustainable communities in Iowa,” according to its website. After Richard Jacobson’s death in 2016, the foundation continued his legacy. Grants focus on promoting secondary and higher education, youth development, and medical research.

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“Richard Jacobson was a great supporter of the University of Iowa during his lifetime, and his foundation continues to fund the organizations that were important to him,” Dana Larson, the UI Center for Advancement executive director of communications, said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

There are more than 600,000 children living in Iowa, but there is a shortage in pediatric specialists in the state, said Steve Stephenson, president and chief operating officer of Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. Filling this shortage could mean much more accessible care for Iowa’s children, and this endowment can help.

The UI has worked with Blank Children’s Hospital for many years, collaborating to best serve Iowa’s pediatric needs. Many doctors split their time between Iowa City and Des Moines to provide care to patients no matter their regional situation, Stephenson said.

“There are many services we may best utilize by coordinating together,” Stephenson said. “The state has a large rural population, and part of both of our reason for doing this to involve not just our care but to find a way to extend our reach so we may provide that care across the state.”

Both Hirsch and Stephenson are passionate about collaboration between Blank and Stead to provide the best care for children in Iowa. Instead of focusing on the individual needs of each hospital, they are looking at the bigger picture, Stephenson said.

“The Richard O. Jacobson Foundation wanted to help the UI Stead Family Department of Pediatrics and Blank Children’s Hospital to reach its goal of comprehensive specialty care for all of Iowa’s children,” Larson said.

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