Thomas Jefferson University and Temple University in Philadelphia have announced a $5 million gift from Merck & Co. board chair and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier and his wife, Andréa, in support of efforts to bring stroke prevention and care to underserved neighborhoods and groups in the city.
The gift will support the Frazier Family Coalition for Stroke Education and Prevention, a partnership between the two universities and their health systems aimed at addressing social determinants of health and racial/ethnic disparities that lead to poor health outcomes and increased risk of stroke among residents of North Philadelphia. The initiative will focus its efforts on the Allegheny West neighborhood, which ranks near the bottom of city neighborhoods for health outcomes.
Research has shown that nearly 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and yet stroke is the fourth most common cause of death in Philadelphia, where the rate of stroke is twenty times the national average and highest among underserved African Americans. To address factors that contribute to the problem, including unmanaged chronic disease and a shortage of healthcare providers, the coalition will work to create an integrated health education and community navigation program that connects at-risk individuals with the information, resources, and clinical care they need to prevent stroke and connects patients who have had a stroke with the services they need to prevent a reoccurrence.
Andréa Frazier, who founded Frazier Designs, has taught international law and politics at St. Joseph's University, and is a stroke and cancer survivor, has dedicated herself to raising awareness and improving health outcomes for women and underserved communities.
"It is critical that our health systems address the disparities that impact underserved communities. Stroke disproportionately affects disadvantaged African American community members and, combined with poor access to education and healthcare, results in significantly poorer health outcomes," Andréa and Ken Frazier said in a joint statement. "Our family has deep roots in North Philadelphia and has been impacted by the debilitating effects of stroke. We feel privileged to be in a position to help convene this partnership to bring life-saving stroke prevention measures to our community."