Community Partnership, Commitment to Equity

To fight hunger in Minnesota, M Health Fairview medical staff donate $100,000 to Second Harvest Heartland

More people are facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, the medical staff from our East Metro hospitals teamed up to donate $100,000.
  • December 23, 2020
  • By Staff Writer

This holiday season, healthcare workers continue to tirelessly fight COVID-19. But M Health Fairview medical staff at our East Metro hospitals wanted to do even more.

Last week, medical staff from M Health Fairview’s St. John’s HospitalSt. Joseph’s CampusWoodwinds Hospital, and Bethesda Hospital – which was recently converted to a homeless shelter serving the St. Paul community – donated $100,000 to Second Harvest Heartland to help provide food to those in need. The donation funds came from staff dues collected over the last year.

“It’s good to do something that’s bigger than ourselves,” said M Health Fairview Hospitalist William Nicholson, MD, who serves as vice president of medical affairs. “We know this year has been tough on people, so we wanted to do something about it. Second Harvest Heartland is a very well-respected charity that serves the community we’re part of.”

M Health Fairview healthcare workers chose Second Harvest Heartland because it serves the same communities we serve. Founded in 2001, Second Harvest Heartland is a local hunger relief organization that distributed more than 97 million meals in 2019 to 1,000 food shelves and meal programs across 59 counties in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the number of people and families relying on food support from Second Harvest Heartland has grown by 60 percent.

“[Medical providers are] tasked to identify the health care needs in our community,” hospital leaders wrote in a letter to Second Harvest Heartland. “Food insecurity has become a worsening problem for many of our patients because of the economic devastation caused by the COVID pandemic.”

The letter was signed by Nicholson and M Health Fairview hospital chiefs-of-staff, including Pathologist Byron Simmons, MD; Pulmonologist and Critical Care Physician Rita Patel, MD; Hospitalist Tom Scheider, MD; and Pulmonologist and Critical Care Physician Erica Kuhlmann, DO. Anesthesiologist Matthew Stiles, MD, the president of HealthEast Medical Staff, also signed the letter.

“With the profound increase in food insecurity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this Second Harvest donation allowed our providers to significantly impact and improve the healthcare needs of our community,” Stiles said.

“We understand now more than ever how inadequate nutrition can affect a patient’s health and well-being during this pandemic,” said Scheider. “We’re happy to help our community neighbors.”