female philanthropic circle forms to bring health care to uninsured women

All women have the right to quality health care, including a full spectrum of obstetrical and gynecological treatment. A network of area women have started an initiative to ensure those needs are met.

Summa Foundation Circle of Women's Health Philanthropists is led by a collection of female executives, professionals and social philanthropists. The group launched in April and has raised over $65,000 in pledges to bring pre-natal care and other critical medical advancements to uninsured or underinsured women, says Circle co-founder Julia Rea Bianchi.

The 15 organization members will choose from a wish list of medical needs by the end of the year, notes Shelley Green, director of principal giving with Summa Foundation. The funds may go directly into the operating budget of the Summa Center for Women's Health and the Women's Health Unit at Summa Akron City Hospital, or be used to purchase new bassinets or a fetal heart Doppler machine for the center.

Through the Circle's work, "there will be great stewardship of those [financial] gifts," says Bianchi, a Summa Foundation board member. "Coming together we can make a powerful and measurable impact."

The group was created in part from Bianchi's experience as a national founder of Tiffany Circle, a growing philanthropic venture affiliated with the American Red Cross. With the Center for Women's Health drawing 15,000 patients annually, Bianchi recognized an opportunity to localize that ambitious endeavor.

"It's tried and true and can work here," she says. "We know we can improve the well-being of women without access to quality health care, and it can done right here at Summa Health System."

SOURCES: Shelley Green, Julia Rea Bianchi
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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