Rex Endowment targets kids

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — The John Rex Endowment in Raleigh is sharpening its focus.

Created through the sale of nonprofit Rex Healthcare in Raleigh to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, the $70 million-asset foundation has the mission of boosting children’s health by increasing their access to health care, promoting healthy behavior and helping them grow and develop.

In its first grants last October, the foundation awarded more than $2 million over three years to the Wake County Medical Society and Wake Health Services to give more youngsters access to routine preventive medical care by reducing the number of uninsured children and increasing access to pediatric care.

The two groups aim to help enroll eligible but uninsured youngsters in government health-insurance programs, help renew their coverage each year and help parents get check-ups and screenings for their children.

With $1.4 million more to award this year, the foundation wants to give children greater access to primary care through strategies such as extended hours or making it easier for agencies to refer children to primary-care providers.

The foundation estimates several thousand Wake children are eligible for health insurance but don’t have it, says Kevin Cain, foundation president and CEO.

“An uninsured child is three times more likely not to get prescriptions filled or needed eyeglasses, four times more likely to have delays seeking medical care and five times more likely not to have a usual health-care provider,” he says.

The sale of Rex Healthcare generated $100 million for the foundation, which in turn agreed to give the hospital $25 million for capital projects.

The value of the remaining assets — 70 percent of them invested in equities through an indexed fund, and 30 percent invested in bonds and other fixed funds – has declined to $70 million because of the economic slump, Cain says.

The foundation expects to make $2.2 million in grants in 2003 and $3.3 million in 2004, he said.

The sale agreement restricts the foundation from distributing any endowment principal until 2011. Until then, it can make grants only from income on the investment of that principal.

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