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Making A Difference: Avenues To Further Expand BBF’s Impact

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Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting a long-time donor and her similarly engaged friend at BBF’s offices on Pittsburgh’s North Side, followed by a meeting the next day with a local TV station’s very supportive head of community relations – also a gracious donor. After talking about our ongoing work in Ukraine and the H.I.D.E program categories of Healthcare, Infrastructure, Disaster Response and Education, the discussions moved towards BBF’s vision for expanding the organization’s efforts around the globe. 

I had just made a presentation on these plans for growth to BBF’s Board of Trustees at the April Board meeting and was excited at the interest and passion expressed by our guests. They concurred that sharing what are the scribbled highlights of the plan on the whiteboard in my office, may be of interest to our supporters wherever they may be. 

In addition to BBF’s ongoing efforts most visibly seen through the donations of pharmaceuticals (our largest program and a major focus of expansion led by Board Member Lance Kann), medical supplies and equipment, support of physician-led Med-Surg trips, solar and WASH projects, responses to disasters, and work in the educational area, BBF’s strategy to make an even greater impact is highlighted by Domestic and International initiatives outlined below. 

I. Domestic: BBF’s domestic strategy revolves around addressing the needs of underserved community members both locally and across our country. This includes donating mobile health clinics (MHCs) to implementation partners who are direct care providers and can also deliver continuity of care to patients as needed. Current and potential MHC funding sources include both individual and institutional donors. 

BBF has also conducted an in-depth study titled Addressing Unmet Healthcare Needs in South-West PA along with studies on the need and effectiveness of both vision and audiology mobile clinics. As you will see below, we are working with major health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Free Clinics, and other community service organizations. 

Supporting larger organizations may seem counterintuitive, but they often have the staffing and operational plans to conduct such work. Well deserving smaller healthcare providers can be doing impactful work but may need the mobile clinic and funding for additional staffing. Our research and discussions to date have shown that though these organizations may have different operational characteristics, they are all dedicated to helping those in need. 

BBF is currently involved in the following domestic projects: 

1. Eye & Ear Foundation Guerilla Eye Service, Pittsburgh, PA – Vision and Diabetes Screening Mobile Health Clinic (MHC) – delivered and in service assisting homeless and underserved community members in collaboration with students from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. 

2. Allegheny Health Network (AHN), Pittsburgh, PA – Primary Care MHC to address the needs of the elderly in underserved communities. The MHC is currently being fabricated – 06/16 completion date. 

3. Caridad Center, Free Clinic, Boynton Beach, FL – Vision and Diabetes Screening MHC to see patients who cannot come to their facility. MHC is currently being fabricated – 06/16 completion date. 

4. Kentucky Care, FQHC, multiple locations including school-based clinics, KY – Primary Care MHC to visit patients in rural areas who cannot come to medical facilities. The MHC is currently being fabricated – 06/16 completion date. 

5. Local Pittsburgh organization (not publicly announced as yet) providing hearing services, Pittsburgh, PA – Proposed audiology MHC to assist the elderly and others in underserved communities who cannot come to the clinic. We are anticipating foundational funding for the MHC and additional staffing after completion of the operational plan by their Executive Director. 

6. Eye & Ear Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA – Proposed audiology MHC to assist underserved community members in potential collaboration with the hearing services organization mentioned above. We are awaiting an operational plan and will thereafter seek funding for the program. 

7. Major healthcare partner (not publicly announced as yet) – Proposed mammography MHC. BBF provided a research report focusing on needs assessment and the current availability of services. The project is in preliminary planning stages and may require foundational funding in addition to the implementing partner’s internal funding commitment. 

II. International: BBF became a USAID (United States Agency for International Development) partner in March of 2023. This designation now allows us to apply for USAID grants in any area of the world where they have a presence. We are particularly interested in USAID’s ASHA (American Schools and Hospitals Abroad) program given its potential synergy with BBF’s areas of work. As we continue to further learn about and understand USAID’s grant process, BBF’s focus is on working with established and credible local in-country partners to get the projects funded. Some programs such as Chile Newborn screening, will require outside funding as USAID does not work in the country. 

BBF’s International projects include but are not limited to: 

1.Chile – Newborn Screening Program as written about in an earlier newsletter this year. In collaboration with BBF Board members Drs. Christina Briscoe Abath, Agnes Kielian, their Chilean neurologist colleague Dr. Juan Francisco Cabello at the University of Valparaiso in Chile, along with the Chilean Ministry of Health. 

2.Global Neurology Initiative – This includes an expansion of our support for neurology programs which stemmed from the Ukraine response. The initiative is led by BBF Board member Dr. Svetlana Faktorovich in a potential collaboration with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and local in-country partner organizations. 

3.Ghana – Providing support for schools and medical facilities in collaboration with Dr. Steve Greene, of Hope for Ghana. As you may have seen from our highlights of Dr. Greene’s work, it includes building schools, providing solar panels for electricity, setting up clean water systems, and providing computers for learning. 

4. Pakistan – Providing support for the rehabilitation of pediatric emergency rooms in collaboration with Child Life Foundation. The impact of the program has been highlighted on the 60 minutes TV show and universally acclaimed for substantially decreasing the child mortality rate in the rehabbed ERs. 

5. Malawi – BBF has worked extensively in Malawi and recently provided optical equipment to the Mulanje Mission Hospital (MMH). Though currently in the preliminary stages, the vision is to provide a mobile ophthalmology clinic to MMH within the larger context of providing MHCs to medical facilities across the country. This program would be further scalable and replicable in other countries such as Ghana. 

A number of the initiatives mentioned above are already underway through your generous contributions. Others will require additional time, research, and successful grant proposals for institutional support. We put them before you to share the impact that you are making and our commitment to expanding BBF’s work to new horizons. 

As always, thank you for your thoughtfulness and generosity in helping improve the lives of so many around the world.

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