Press Releases

The Physicians Foundation Awards $1 Million Grant to Health Leads

Supports Expansion of Innovative Healthcare Delivery Model for Vulnerable Families Across the Country

Boston, MA (May 10, 2011)—The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the work of practicing physicians and improve the quality of healthcare for all Americans, awarded a $1 million dollar grant to Health Leads, an organization devoted to helping vulnerable families by arranging for college volunteers to partner with physicians in hospitals across the country.

In the hospitals and health centers where Health Leads operates, doctors can “prescribe” food, housing, or other critical resources—just as they would medication. Patients take their prescriptions to the clinic waiting room, where Health Leads’ college volunteers are ready to connect them to these resources. Nearly 60 percent of Health Leads patients secure at least one critical resource – receive food, get their heat turned back on, find a job – within 90 days of getting their “prescription.” All patients receive ongoing follow-up until their needs are met.

“As we continue to identify new ways to enhance healthcare delivery, we are extremely proud to fund the ongoing efforts of Health Leads,” said Dr. Walker Ray, Vice President of The Physicians Foundation and Chair of the Research Committee. “In a system that is massively overburdened by strained resources, innovative models that foster collaboration between college volunteers and physicians can have real impact on our nation’s healthcare.”

The Physicians Foundation’s funding will help Health Leads expand its operational capabilities, allowing the organization to serve significantly more patients. By developing an information technology infrastructure to enhance tracking of patient outcomes and by hiring additional program managers and staff, Health Leads will be able to deepen engagement with physicians and clinic partners.

“Health Leads is grateful for the assistance of The Physicians Foundation in helping us to build the capacity we need to scale our program model over the next four years. Since we received their funding, we have been able to serve more than 2,600 patients, putting us on track for an increase of more than 60 percent over last year,” said Rebecca Onie, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Health Leads. “We have also launched discussions to build an evaluation partnership with the Mayo Clinic Center and rolled out a new client database to all of our sites that will enable us to better track and report client outcomes. The Foundation’s support has been invaluable in helping us make significant progress on these strategic goals.”

About Health Leads

Health Leads works in 22 pediatric and prenatal clinics, newborn nurseries, emergency rooms, and community health centers in six cities across the U.S. Last year, Health Leads trained and deployed 660 college volunteers to connect nearly 6,000 low-income patients and their families to the resources they need to be healthy. By providing a transformative experience for hundreds of college volunteers, Health Leads is producing a pipeline of new leaders who will have both the conviction and the ability to revolutionize healthcare. Additional information about Health Leads is available online at

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