Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan Give $5 Million to Ravenswood Health Center

By Lisa Fernandez
|  Thursday, Jan 23, 2014  |  Updated 2:57 PM PDT
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Mark Zuckerberg (right) poses for a photo with Priscilla Chan (left) during a small wedding ceremony in Palo Alto, Calif. This photo was posted to Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook page on May 19, 2012.

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It's a call any leader of a struggling nonprofit would covet.

On Sunday, Luisa Buada, CEO of the Ravenswood Family Heath Center in East Palo Alto got a call from none other than Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Would she like $5 million to help her close the gap on her multimillion construction project to build a new health center?

Well, Buada's answer was obvious.

"It was a lovely conversation," she told NBC Bay Area, putting it mildly.

And on Wednesday, Buada, along with a host of health care leaders and two Congresswomen, were poised to formally announce the major gift on the 38,000-sqare-foot, two-story health center at Bay and Pulgas Roads. The Zuckerberg-Chan gift clears the goal for construction costs, estimated to be about $29 million. The balance of $7 million needs to be raised to equip the clinic and hire new staff before opening in April 2015.

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park is less than four miles from the health center in East Palo Alto. And in December 2012, Zuckerberg donated 18 million shares of stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which at the time, was valued at $500 million. Today, it's estimated to be valued between $900 million and $1 billion. The $5 million for the Ravenswood center is coming from that donation to the Silicon Valley foundation.

“We’re grateful to the support from Mark and Priscilla, and all our other donors, that will help us serve the community in even more ways over the coming years,” Buada said of her 12-year-old center.

Technically, Zuckerberg's gift is from him and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, who is in pediatric residency at the University of California at San Francisco. She visited the clinic a few weeks back and fell in love with the place, according to Kathleen Alexander, spokeswoman for the health center.

"As a pediatrician, I have seen great need for high quality, comprehensive health care and also the positive impact care can make on the entire family," Chan said in a statement. "Quality healthcare and a strong educational system are the key elements of a healthy community.”

The new center - replacing the temporary modular offices - will double Ravenswood’s service capacity from 11,000 to 22,000 patients per year, and support improved primary care services with 58 exam rooms and 13 behavioral health counseling rooms, as well as laboratory, imaging and mammography services, optometry exams and a pharmacy. Designed by INDE Architecture, the new facility will be constructed by Rudolph & Sletten. A rendering of the new building was provided to NBC Bay Area.

The center will create new jobs in healthcare and also support the expansion of residency programs in pediatrics, internal medicine and family practice.

The center received an initial $5 million capacity building grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services administration in May 2012, made available through the Affordable Care Act for the purpose of increasing the capacity of community health centers to serve more people.
                                                                                                                             
To mark the significance of the new health center, U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo were expected to attend the ceremony along with Mayor of East Palo Alto Laura Martinez, Regional Administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, David Sayen, County Manager John Maltbie and County Supervisor Warren Slocum.

“Providing high quality healthcare for everyone is important for building a strong community,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “Investing in our local community is really important for me and Priscilla, and we’re proud to support the Ravenswood Family Health Center.”
 

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