Contributions Demonstrate Support For Future Of Healthcare
ERIE, Pa. — The Coronavirus pandemic has had far-reaching effects, touching nearly every aspect of our lives. Throughout the global crisis, there has been an increased focus on the significant roles medical professionals play as well as the importance of having a skilled, robust workforce capable of facing the challenges posed by such healthcare emergencies, both now and in the future.
That future has received a boost, thanks to the generosity of many who, despite a global economic downturn and widespread financial constraints, helped the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) successfully raise $1.3 million for the LECOM Student Scholarship Fund in 2020. That money will help offset educational costs for aspiring osteopathic physicians, pharmacists and dentists studying at LECOM’s campuses in Erie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Bradenton, Florida, and Elmira, New York.
“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted what those of us in the medical community have always known: healthcare workers are an integral component of a functioning society,” said John M. Ferretti, D.O., president and CEO of LECOM. “The generosity shown to LECOM this year demonstrates the value others place upon ensuring the nation’s healthcare system is filled with medical professionals who have received the best possible education and training so they are fully prepared to meet future challenges as they arise.”
LECOM’s annual fundraising efforts include activities at its campuses and in surrounding communities, culminating with the school’s two largest fundraisers — gala-style auctions — held each autumn in Erie and Bradenton. However, the Coronavirus forced LECOM, like most organizations, to adapt its fundraising strategies in 2020. Instead of hosting large, in-person events, LECOM relied on individual and corporate contributions as well as strategic, virtual efforts to bolster the school’s scholarship program. Those activities included virtual 5Ks, raffles, and the annual Millcreek Community Hospital Golf Classic, among others.
LECOM’s single biggest fundraiser in 2020 was Erie Gives. The school received a record $165,652 in donations, more than double the highest amount the institution had ever previously received through the one-day philanthropic campaign organized by the Erie Community Foundation.
“LECOM is grateful to the individuals and businesses that contributed to the 2020 LECOM Student Scholarship Fund Drive,” said Monsignor David Rubino, LECOM vice president of external affairs and coordinator of the 2020 fund drive. “The last year has been a period of financial stress for many, so to have received such a tremendous showing of support has been truly inspiring.”
According to data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. will likely face a significant physician shortage in the next two decades due to a gap between the country’s growing healthcare demands and the number of available physicians. Programs like the LECOM Student Scholarship Fund enable aspiring physicians as well as next-generation pharmacists and dentists to alleviate some of the expenses of their professional education, thereby making the path toward careers in the healthcare industry that much easier.
LECOM consistently maintains one of the lowest tuitions among private U.S. medical schools; however, many students still graduate with a considerable amount of debt. Officials established the LECOM Student Scholarship Fund to help future physicians, pharmacists and dentists ease the financial burden of their professional education. Each year the scholarship program distributes over $4 million to deserving students across LECOM’s four campuses. Since 1994, LECOM has awarded more than $40 million in scholarships, including $20 million over the last five years alone.