JERUSALEM – In a joint effort to help women around the world learn how to better protect themselves against heart disease, Irene Pollin of Bethesda, founder and chairman of Sister to Sister, has donated $10 million to Hadassah Medical Organization to establish the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute in Jerusalem. Sister to Sister and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, announced the gift and partnership today, after Pollin’s granddaughter, Hannah Pollin-Galay, presented the gift last night during a ceremony at Hadassah’s centennial commemoration, being celebrated this week in Jerusalem by almost 2,000 Hadassah members and supporters.
Seeking to expand on its groundbreaking work empowering women throughout the United States, and educating both federal lawmakers and the international community in Washington, D.C., Sister to Sister is taking its message abroad. Pollin’s gift will be the launching point of an alliance with Hadassah that will help both Middle Eastern and even more American women get heart smart. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women.
“Since founding Sister to Sister in Washington, D.C., I have longed to find a place outside of the United States to establish a heart disease prevention program geared toward women,” Pollin said. “Partnering with Hadassah is an obvious extension of the work we’ve been doing, of the gimmick-free, prevention-focused work that has made Sister to Sister unique. Given Hadassah’s 100 years of experience helping women of all backgrounds take better care of themselves, I could not think of a better way to reach out to our sisters across the globe than establishing the Linda Joy Pollin Institute at Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Heart disease knows no boundaries, and neither will we.”
Marcie Natan, National President of Hadassah, thanked Pollin for her gift.
“The Hadassah family is deeply grateful for Mrs. Pollin’s most generous gift that will enhance our efforts in heart health,” she said. “The work and treatment that will be undertaken at Hadassah Medical Organization will be critical in contributing to preventing heart disease, and the data the program will collect will be used in Israel and throughout the United States.
“The historical and ongoing role of Hadassah is to bring healing to people of all backgrounds. Mrs. Pollin’s gift adds to our ability to deepen and extend what we can provide for our patients. We look forward to a meaningful partnership with Sister to Sister both in Israel and throughout the United States.”
The new institute is named after Pollin’s daughter, Linda Joy, who was born with a congenital heart condition that she bravely fought for 16 years before it took her life.
In addition to playing a major role in changing health outcomes for women in the Middle East, a cornerstone of the work conducted through the Institute will be uniting all women, regardless of faith or ethnicity, in the fight against heart disease.
“Through Sister to Sister, I’ve sought to make as many women as possible aware that although one in three women are currently dying from heart disease, simple lifestyle changes can have a major impact in reducing their risk,” Pollin said. “For a century, Hadassah’s inclusive approach to women’s health has broken down barriers and saved countless lives. Ours is a natural partnership, one built on a common notion of universal sisterhood. Since making my decision to establish the Institute in Jerusalem, my heart has been telling me how right this is.”
The Pollin Institute in Jerusalem is but the first step of what will be an ongoing collaboration between Sister to Sister and Hadassah in Israel and the United States. The two organizations will come together to raise awareness about heart disease and prevention through live screening programs and local education initiatives. The groups also will join forces to promote Smart for the Heart, a web-based heart health tool that provides free online health risk assessments, while offering recommendations and resources for making healthier lifestyle choices to help mitigate risks.
“Technology has afforded us the ability to reach every corner of the globe,” Pollin said. “The medically-certified Smart for the Heart online wellness program is backed by Sister to Sister, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School and now Hadassah. I’m thrilled that our lifesaving work will be amplified by Hadassah and the organization’s vast reach and expertise.”
Natan praised the new partnership: “We welcome and greatly value our partnership with Sister to Sister. We believe that our joint efforts to provide meaningful Sister to Sister information and programs regarding heart health to women throughout the Hadassah network of 330,000 members and donors in the United States will contribute significantly to reaching women throughout America.
“Sister to Sister brings to the partnership tested content regarding heart care and prevention. Hadassah has a long history of providing materials, education and training around medical issues (e.g. genetic diseases, cancer testing and treatment). The collaboration provides a unique opportunity to build on both organizations’ strengths to deliver the best in health care.”